The belief in the superiority of an elite (the word “elite” comes from a French word for “select” or “chosen” and is related to the English word “elect”) affects nearly every type of group identity. Sexism, racism, and ethnocentrism, for example, may be considered subcategories of elitism that are based on sex, race, or ethnicity. In its usual sense, however, elitism is a function of class identity. A sense of elitism usually occurs when an aristocratic or noble class regards itself as deserving special privileges or influence because of its exalted status. In North America, elites may also be defined in terms of wealth (the business elite), power (the political elite), or natural ability (the intellectual or cultural elite). Elitism in literature involves the portrayal of the merits or personality of a character as deriving primarily from that character’s membership in a privileged class.