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Elites and Power Structure

  • Michael Hartmann
Chapter

Abstract

The failure of the referenda on the EU constitution in France and the Netherlands increased the impression that the EU is most of all a project of the elites. But who are these elites? Are they already European, maybe even globalized, or are they still nationally structured in their overwhelming majority? What is their social recruitment like? How strong is mobility between the various elite-sectors, to what degree does the integration of elites happen? These questions will determine the chapter. They are crucial for a sociological analysis as they inform about the two most important aspects, i.e. the democratic authorization of elites and their interior coherence. Altogether, there is no specifically European model of elite formation and elite integration. In Europe, three different basic types of elite formation can be identified. They differ from each other by two decisive aspects, by their specific ways of (both institutional and social) recruiting, and by the extent of their inter-sectoral mobility. Elites are most homogeneous where their recruiting is not only socially exclusive but also happens on the basis of standardized education at special elite-related educational institutions and if furthermore they regularly change between the different elite sectors. In this way, in Europe this is only the case with the French model. Great Britain represents the second type. Although it is also characterized by exclusive social and institutional recruitment it is different from the first type due to the fact that there is only limited exchange between the sectors. Germany must finally be counted among the third type which includes most of the European countries. In the case of this type elite careers happen mostly within one field, but in contrast to Great Britain there is no common education of elites at special institutions. Thus, the integration of elites may be considered least in this case. Its concrete degree, however, is strongly dependent on the social recruitment of each single elite which in this respect is more or less different, according to country.

Keywords

Public School Political Elite Supervisory Board Lower Middle Class Business Elite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyTechnical University DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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