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Book part
Publication date: 5 April 2012

Mike Reed

This chapter reviews three analytical perspectives – ‘structural’, ‘network’ and ‘cultural’ – on the study of power and their implications for theorizing elites. It builds…

Abstract

This chapter reviews three analytical perspectives – ‘structural’, ‘network’ and ‘cultural’ – on the study of power and their implications for theorizing elites. It builds on this initial theoretical review by developing a critical realist approach to the study of organizational elites out of the structurally based perspective identified in the first section of the chapter. The explanatory potential of this critical realist approach is then illustrated through two case studies of ruling elites embedded in contrasting historical, political and social contexts. The final section of the chapter provides a discussion of the wider implications of these case study analyses for understanding and explaining the ‘new feudalism’ which is emerging in advanced political economies and societies.

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Rethinking Power in Organizations, Institutions, and Markets
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-665-2

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Book part
Publication date: 10 February 2015

Mairi Maclean, Charles Harvey and Gerhard Kling

Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and…

Abstract

Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and implications of the construct, and integrates it into a wider conception of the formation and functioning of elites at the highest level in society. Drawing on an extensive dataset profiling the careers of members of the French business elite, it compares and contrasts those who enter the field of power with those who fail to qualify for membership, exploring why some succeed as hyper-agents while others do not. The alliance of social origin and educational attainment, class and meritocracy, emerges as particularly compelling. The field of power is shown to be relatively variegated and fluid, connecting agents from different life worlds. Methodologically, this paper connects biographical data of top French directors with the field of power in France in a novel way, while presenting an operationalization of Bourdieu’s concept of the field of power as applied to the French elite.

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Article
Publication date: 11 January 2021

Suhaib Riaz and Sean Buchanan

This paper aims to present a critical interpretation of unfolding events related to corporate and policymaking elites during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crisis to…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a critical interpretation of unfolding events related to corporate and policymaking elites during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crisis to serve as a point of contrast to mainstream views.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing upon literature on elite maintenance and power, learning from recent previous crises and emerging evidence during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, this study develops arguments to question and problematize the exercise of power by elites toward maintenance of existing systems across the pandemic.

Findings

Critical examination points attention to three related but analytically distinct strategies in the exercise of elite power: reinforcing myths, redirecting blame and reclaiming positions, all directed to maintain the system and preserve power. The potential effects of this ongoing elite maintenance are highlighted, revealing the old and new forms of power likely to emerge at the corporate, national and global levels across the pandemic crisis and endure beyond it.

Social implications

It is hoped that the critical examination here may build more awareness about the deep and complex nature of elite power and systems across the globe that preclude meaningful system change to address societal challenges. It may thereby provide more informed engagement toward system change.

Originality/value

The main originality of the paper lies in its attempt to tie together the various types of elite maintenance works and their potential effects into an overarching narrative. Making these connections and interpreting them from a critical perspective provides a rare large-canvas picture of elite power and system maintenance, particularly across a global crisis.

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critical perspectives on international business, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Book part
Publication date: 7 October 2019

Marte Mangset, Fredrik Engelstad, Mari Teigen and Trygve Gulbrandsen

Critiques of elites define populism, which conceives of power relations as a unified, conspiring elite exploiting the good people. Yet, populism itself is inherently…

Abstract

Critiques of elites define populism, which conceives of power relations as a unified, conspiring elite exploiting the good people. Yet, populism itself is inherently elitist, calling for a strong leader to take power and channel the will of the people. Elite theory, surprisingly overlooked in scholarship on populism, can clarify this apparent paradox and elucidate the dimensions of populism and its risk of authoritarianism in new ways. In contrast to populist ideological conceptions of power relations in society, elite theory points to the possibility that several elites with diverging voices and interests exist. Furthermore, elite theorists argue that such elite pluralism is a necessary component of a well-functioning democracy. Much scholarship on populism, often aiming to understand its causes and focussing on Western Europe and North America, points to the similarities of populist movements. The focus on similarities strengthens the understanding of populism as a uniform phenomenon and populist elite critiques as homogeneous. However, broader comparative studies show that different populist movements target a range of various elite groups. Indeed, the empirical reality of populist elite critiques targeting diverse elite groups is more in line with elite theory than populist ideological conceptions of power relations in society. A key to grasping the democratic challenges posed by the power relations between elites and masses in both populist critiques and populist solutions is an understanding of the institutional conditions for elite integration versus elite pluralism. This central discussion in both classical and modern elite theory is applied to analyse populism in this contribution.

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Elites and People: Challenges to Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-915-6

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Book part
Publication date: 10 February 2015

Mike Reed and Mike Wallace

This paper focuses on the strategic role of elites in managing institutional and organizational change within English public services, framed by the wider ideological and…

Abstract

This paper focuses on the strategic role of elites in managing institutional and organizational change within English public services, framed by the wider ideological and political context of neo-liberalism and its pervasive impact on the social and economic order over recent decades. It also highlights the unintended consequences of this elite-driven programme of institutional reform as realized in the emergence of hybridized regimes of ‘polyarchic governance’ and the innovative discursive and organizational technologies on which they depend. Within the latter, ‘leaderism’ is identified as a hegemonic ‘discursive imaginary’ that has the potential to connect selected marketization and market control elements of new public management (NPM), network governance, and visionary and shared leadership practices that ‘make the hybrid happen’ in public services reform.

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Elites on Trial
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-680-5

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Book part
Publication date: 10 February 2015

Andrew Bowman, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, Michael Moran and Karel Williams

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…

Abstract

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.

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Elites on Trial
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-680-5

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Bhagwan Dutta Yadav, Hugh R. Bigsby and Ian MacDonald

Local organisations have been established on participatory approach whose central purpose is to establish development activities bringing about positive change as four…

Abstract

Purpose

Local organisations have been established on participatory approach whose central purpose is to establish development activities bringing about positive change as four pillars of developments: to establish decentralised robust local organisation for sustainable forest management to enhance livelihood of rural people, to meet the forest products basic needs of local people, targeted interventions for poverty alleviation and social mobilisation initiatives and biodiversity conservation climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Design/methodology/approach

Local organisational elites designed/conceptualised the concept, where it can be operated organisationally and in local organisational context that provides new ways and methods to develop conceptual framework (Table I), which sheds light on involvement of poor and underprivileged members in decision-making process and distribution of benefit on equity basis.

Findings

The findings will lead to a positive change through the organisational elite model through both reorganising organisations and restructuring of power with change in the society and reduce the impact of rational choices, vested interests of elites (leaders of local organisation) and political factors, which are otherwise playing a game or tragedy of commons.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the limited resources and time, the authors are unable to verify it on the other development line agencies such as drinking water scheme, livestock, health and cooperative.

Practical implications

It considerably appears that the impacts are very sound to conclude from the review of above models of elites that provide a very clear understanding and useful conceiving lens to formulate how participation occurs in the executive committee of the community forestry user groups (CFUG) and community-based organisations based on three key elements. First are the caste and the caste structure of the community. Second is the wealth status of the individual, and third is power created both from wealth and caste. This should be determined from the local organisational elite model (Table I) about the nature of interactions on the executive of the CFUGs and other vehicles of local community-based development organisations.

Social implications

Local organisations will provide an opportunity in reality to both elites and non-elites to considerably change, make aware and create a realistic situation to determine the dialectical opportunity to develop relationship, interaction and configuration between elite and non-elite members both outside and inside of the local organisations.

Originality/value

It has not been found in literatures yet such sort of concept developed in development field particularly in the development activities performed by participation of local users. Hence, it is certainly original conceptual framework.

Details

International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

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Book part
Publication date: 11 December 2006

Ilkka Ruostetsaari

As far as nation building is concerned, there are substantial differences between the Western and Eastern patterns. In the West nationalism generally developed only after…

Abstract

As far as nation building is concerned, there are substantial differences between the Western and Eastern patterns. In the West nationalism generally developed only after the strong states had been formed, as a consequence of conscious efforts by the central power. In the Eastern European latecomer states in contrast, the process was reversed: ethnic similarities led to national consciousness prior to the formation or re-establishment of a state. Although Finland followed the latter pattern, it approximated the Eastern pattern mainly in terms of the political dependence, but that of Western Europe, especially Scandinavia, as far as the class structure is concerned. This mixture explains the steady advance of national consolidation and nationalism in Finland (Alapuro, 1988, pp. 88–90).

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Comparative Studies of Social and Political Elites
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-466-9

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Book part
Publication date: 10 February 2015

Glenn Morgan

The paper argues that the form, structure and ideologies of elites are embedded in particular forms of capitalism. Whilst elites in these different societies are engaged…

Abstract

The paper argues that the form, structure and ideologies of elites are embedded in particular forms of capitalism. Whilst elites in these different societies are engaged in a common task of ensuring that their position is sustained and protected in the light of economic and political uncertainties, the way in which they are able to do this is shaped by the particular forms of legitimation, coordination and cohesion that are embedded in particular institutional trajectories, path dependencies and complementarities. However, the paper emphasizes that these institutional structures are dependent on particular international economic orders and when these change either over the short or the long term, elites often find themselves struggling to maintain their position without significant changes. The paper examines firstly how the long-term change from Keynesianism to neo-liberalism in the international economic order led to changes in the terrain on which elites in different countries formed and exercised power and secondly how the immediate and drastic short-term changes in the global economy arising from the financial crisis has impacted on elites.

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Elites on Trial
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-680-5

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Book part
Publication date: 24 June 2014

Richard Lachmann

I trace and explain how the ratcheting of corporate mergers and deregulation transformed the structure of elite relations in the United States from 1960 to 2010. Prior to…

Abstract

I trace and explain how the ratcheting of corporate mergers and deregulation transformed the structure of elite relations in the United States from 1960 to 2010. Prior to the 1970s there was a high degree of elite unity and consensus, enforced by Federal regulation and molded by structure of U.S. government, around a set of policies and practices: interventionism abroad, progressive tax rates, heavy state investment in infrastructure and education, and a rising level of social spending. I find that economic decline, the loss of geopolitical hegemony, and mobilization from the left and right are unable to account for the specific policies that both Democratic and Republican Administrations furthered since the 1970s or for the uneven decline in state capacity that were intended and unintended consequences of the post-1960s political realignment and policy changes. Instead, the realignment and restructuring of elites and classes that first transformed politics and degraded government in the 1970s in turn made possible further shifts in the capacities of American political actors in both the state and civil society. I explain how that process operated and how it produced specific policy outcomes and created new limits on mass political mobilization while creating opportunities for autarkic elites to appropriate state powers and resources for themselves.

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The United States in Decline
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-829-7

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