Elite Sectors: Differentiation and Integration

  • Heinrich Best


This chapter introduces the handbook section on differentiation and integration of elite sectors. It describes the formation of elites as a process of social differentiation. The resulting power structure separates economic and political elites. The process of functional differentiation of complex elite systems brings evolutionary advantages, but leads also to elite-elite and elite-population differentials with the potential for conflicts and disruptions in the interaction between elites and non-elites, elite sectors, and sub-elites. Therefore, elite differentiation is intrinsically linked to the vertical integration of elite sectors and to horizontal integration between the levels of elites and non-elites. The chapters of this section cover the sectors of representative elites, executive elites, non-elected political elites, economic elites, and media elites. A further chapter discusses models of elite integration.


  1. Aron, R. (1950). Social Structure and Ruling Class. British Journal of Sociology, 1, 1–16, 203–257.Google Scholar
  2. Best, H. (2012). Marx or Mosca? An Inquiry into the Foundations of Ideocratic Regimes. Historical Social Research, 37(1), 73–89.Google Scholar
  3. Best, H., & Higley, J. (2014). Introduction. In Political Elites in the Transatlantic Crisis (pp. 1–22). London/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Eisenstadt, S. N. (1963). The Political Systems of Empires. The Rise and Fall of the Historical Bureaucratic Societies. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Ertman, T. (1997). Birth of the Leviathan. Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fukuyama, F. (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  7. Fukuyama, F. (2014). Political Order and Political Decay. London: Profile Books.Google Scholar
  8. Keller, S. (1963). Beyond the Ruling Class: Strategic Elites in Modern Society. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  9. Marx, K. (2005). The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. New York: Mondial Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Pareto, V. (1984). The Transformation of Democracy (C. H. Powers, Ed., pp. 55–62). New Brunswick: Transaction Books.Google Scholar
  11. Parsons, T. (1964). Evolutionary Universals in Society. American Sociological Review, 29, 339–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Putnam, R. D. (1976). The Comparative Study of Political Elites. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  13. Rothkopf, D. (2012). Power Inc.: The Epic Rivalry between Big Business and Government – And the Reckoning That Lies Ahead. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  14. Schumpeter, J. (1942). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  15. Tilly, C. (Ed.). (1975). The Formation of National States in Western Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Weber, M. ([1924] 2003). General Economic History. New York: Greenberg.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinrich Best
    • 1
  1. 1.Friedrich Schiller UniversityJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations