Advertisement

Political Elites and Symbolic Superiority

  • Jean-Pascal Daloz
Chapter

Abstract

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.

References

  1. Anglo, S. (1992). Images of Tudor Kingship. London: Seaby.Google Scholar
  2. Balandier, G. (1980). Le pouvoir sur scènes. Paris: Balland.Google Scholar
  3. Cannadine, D., & Price, S. R. F. (Eds.). (1987). Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremony in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, G. (1986). Symbols of Excellence: Precious Materials as Expressions of Status. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, A. (1981). The Politics of Elite Culture: Exploration in the Dramaturgy of Power in a Modern Society. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  6. Daloz, J.-P. (2002). Elites et représentations politiques: La culture de l’échange inégal au Nigeria. Pessac: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux.Google Scholar
  7. Daloz, J.-P. (2007). Political Elites and Conspicuous Modesty: Norway, Sweden, Finland in Comparative Perspective. Comparative Social Research, 26, 173–212.Google Scholar
  8. Daloz, J.-P. (2008). Between Majesty and Proximity: The Enduring Ambiguities of Political Representation in France. French Politics, 6(3), 302–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Daloz, J.-P. (2010). The Sociology of Elite Distinction: From Theoretical to Comparative Perspectives. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daloz, J.-P. (Ed.). (2011). Special Issue on ‘The Distinction of Social and Political Elites’. Comparative Sociology, 10, 4–5.Google Scholar
  11. Daloz, J.-P. (2013). Rethinking Social Distinction. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duindam, J., Artan, T., & Kunt, M. (Eds.). (2011). Royal Courts in Dynastic States and Empires: A Global Perspective. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  13. Edelman, M. (1985 [1964]). The Symbolic Uses of Politics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  14. Firth, R. (1973). Symbols: Public and Private. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  15. Geertz, C. (1980). Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Helms, M. W. (1988). Ulysses’ Sails: An Ethnographic Odyssey of Power, Knowledge and Geographical Distance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Marin, L. (2002). On Representation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Mitchell, L., & Melville, C. (Eds.). (2013). Every Inch a King: Comparative Studies of Kings and Kingship in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  19. Pickenbaugh, T. E. (1997). Symbols of Rank, Leadership, and Power in Traditional Cultures. International Journal of Osteoarcheology, 7, 525–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sabatier, G. (1999). Versailles ou la figure du roi. Paris: Albin Michel.Google Scholar
  21. Trubitt, M. B. (2003). The Production and Exchange of Marine Shell Prestige Goods. Journal of Archaelogical Research, 11(3), 243–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Turner, V. (1967). The Forest of Symbols. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Veyne, P. (1976). Le pain et le cirque : Sociologie historique d’un pluralisme politique. Paris: Le Seuil.Google Scholar
  24. Veyne, P. (1988). Conduites sans croyances et œuvres d’art sans spectateurs. Diogène, 143, 3–22.Google Scholar
  25. Wiessner, P. (1996). Levelling the Hunter: Constraints of the Status Quest in Foraging Societies. In P. Wiessner & W. Schiefenhövel (Eds.), Food and the Status Quest: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Providence: Bergham Books.Google Scholar
  26. Wilentz, S. (Ed.). (1999 [1985]). Rites of Power: Symbolism, Rituals and Politics Since the Middle Ages. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations