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Prestige is the quality of persons and things that are highly esteemed by a culture or society.
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- Prestige stands between the masses and a revolt against their class enemy. The aura of magic, glamour, luster and splendid permanence covers the fascists like a protective layer of fat. The slimy scales of majesty shield and conceal the dilapidation of the old bourgeois reign of terror.
- Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe?
- As an institutional fact, the cultural apparatus assumes many forms, but everywhere today it tends to be part of some national establishment. This term, “establishment,” is of course your (a British) term. The ambiguity with which you use it is at once too lovely and too useful for a mere sociologist to avoid stealing it. I now serve notice that I do intend to steal it, although I promise that I shall try not to make of it a Concept. In general, the term points to the overlap of culture and authority. This overlap may involve the ideological use of cultural products and of cultural workmen for the legitimation of power, and the justification of decisions and policies. It may involve the bureaucratic use of culture by the personnel of authoritative institutions. But the essential feature of any establishment is a traffic between culture and authority, a tacit co-operation of cultural workmen and authorities of a ruling institution. This means of exchange between them includes money, career, privilege; but, above all, it includes prestige. A zone of at least semiofficial prestige which is at once of culture and of authority is the zone of any establishment.
- C. Wright Mills, "The Cultural Apparatus," in The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills (2008)