Patterns of Political Elites

  • John Higley


Efforts to specify main patterns of political elite relations and link them to types of political regimes and other major political phenomena have been a long-standing aspect of elite theory and research. Some patterns provide elite persons and groups with considerable security and ways of defending and advancing their interests peacefully. Other patterns make elite power wielding a precarious, highly uncertain game in which conspiracy and violence are key elements. Different patterns result in different modes of elite behavior: relatively benevolent or predacious, relatively calculating or capricious, and relatively cooperative or conflicting. The systematic study of political elites thus involves identifying patterns of elite relations in modern societies, how and when changes from one to another pattern occur, the ways in which mass populations affect elite relations, and the chief political and other consequences of each pattern. These are complex and controversial issues. By analyzing the relations and practices of political elites in the world’s major regions and many of its most important national states, this section of the handbook addresses these issues.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Higley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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