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Business Elites and Undemocracy in Britain: A Work in Progress

Elites on Trial

ISBN: 978-1-78441-680-5, eISBN: 978-1-78441-679-9

Publication date: 10 February 2015


This exploratory paper discusses the undemocratic agenda setting of elites in Britain and how it has changed politics within a form of capitalism where much is left undisclosed in terms of mechanism and methods. It argues for a more radical exploratory strategy using C. Wright Mills’ understanding that what is left undisclosed is crucially important to elite existence and power, while recognising the limits on democratic accountability when debate, decision and action in complex capitalist societies can be frustrated or hijacked by small groups. Have British business elites, through their relation with political elites, used their power to constrain democratic citizenship? Our hypothesis is that the power of business elites is most likely conjuncturally specific and geographically bounded with distinct national differences. In the United Kingdom, the outcomes are often contingent and unstable as business elites try to manage democracy; moreover, the composition and organisation of business elites have changed through successive conjunctures.



Bowman, A., Froud, J., Johal, S., Moran, M. and Williams, K. (2015), "Business Elites and Undemocracy in Britain: A Work in Progress", Elites on Trial (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 43), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 305-336.



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