Political Elites and Symbolic Superiority

  • Jean-Pascal Daloz


This chapter provides reflections on symbolic dimensions of superiority as constituting a crucial resource for political elites within both pre-democratic and democratic settings. In the first section, drawing mainly from the anthropological and historical literature, various configurations of the past are discussed. It is then shown how in contemporary democratic systems, the issue of the symbolic superiority of top-level political actors is framed in specific terms. Even though they still have to stand out and above, political elites also need to remain close enough to the voters they claim to speak for. From a bottom-up perspective, they have to appear to be ‘one of us’ in contexts of (at least formal) egalitarianism. They thus have to constantly reconcile opposing imperatives of eminence and nearness. Dissimilar scenarios regarding this tension are emphasized.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Pascal Daloz
    • 1
  1. 1.CNRS, SAGEStrasbourgFrance

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