Continuities and Discontinuities in Elite Theory

  • John Higley


A theory of politics and society centered on elites emerged early in the twentieth century. However, the theory was relegated to the century’s intellectual sidelines by visions of thoroughly egalitarian societies and wholly self-governing democracies. No such societies or democracies materialized, and the century’s main socio-political developments were broadly consistent with elite theory. In ominous twenty-first century domestic and international circumstances, there are reasons to believe that the long eclipse of an elite theory of politics and society is ending. Yet, confusion envelops the elite concept, the meaning of elitism, and elite theory’s main tenets. This chapter seeks to dispel some of this confusion.


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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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