The Development of Elite Theory

  • Jan Pakulski


This chapter introduces the handbook section on elite theory. It traces the roots of elite theory to Machiavelli and Hobbes and considers the seminal influence of Pareto, Mosca, Michels, Weber, Schumpeter, and Ortega y Gasset. It provides an overview of elite theory itself and links the composition, recruitment, and relative integration of elite groups, such as top politicians, heads of state agencies, and leaders of business and organized labor, to important social and political outcomes. Processes of political elite decay and replacement and how these processes clash with Marxist and democratic strands of theory, which link social and political change to class struggles or beliefs of mass populations, are also discussed.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Pakulski
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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