Theory-Based Typologies of Political Elites

  • Ursula Hoffmann-Lange


Elite typologies are conceptual tools used to reduce the empirical variety of elites to a small number of ideal types. This chapter is limited to discussing elite typologies that make explicit assumptions about the relationship between the attributes of elites and the characteristics of regimes. The two dimensions that have been the basis of most theory-oriented elite typologies are the extent of elite integration and the character of elite-citizen linkages. The complexity of the characteristics of elites, elite-citizen linkages, and regimes on which the typologies are based poses fundamental problems of operationalization. Empirical elite research has used elite typologies primarily as a means to illustrate the usefulness of a large number of indicators without adequately discussing how they can be combined to test the validity of the theories underlying these elite typologies. More comparative and longitudinal research is needed to tackle these problems.


  1. Aron, R. (1950). Social Structure and the Ruling Class. British Journal of Sociology, 1, 1–17, 126–144.Google Scholar
  2. Best, H. (2010). Associated Rivals: Antagonism and Cooperation in the German Political Elite. In H. Best & J. Higley (Eds.), Democratic Elitism: New Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives (pp. 97–116). Brill: Leiden.Google Scholar
  3. Bozóki, A. (2003). Theoretical Interpretations of Elite Change in East Central Europe. Comparative Sociologie, 2(1), 215–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dahrendorf, R. (1979). Society and Democracy in Germany. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  5. Domhoff, G. W. (1979). The Powers That Be. Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  6. Domhoff, G. W. (2010). Who Rules America? (6th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  7. Femia, J. V. (2002). Against the Masses. Varieties of Anti-Democratic Thought since the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Field, G. L., & Higley, J. (1980). Elitism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  9. Higley, J., & Burton, M. (1987). Elite Settlements. American Sociological Review, 52, 295–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Higley, J., & Burton, M. (2006). Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  11. Higley, J., & Lengyel, G. (2000). Introduction. In J. Higley & G. Lengyel (Eds.), Elites after State Socialism (pp. 1–21). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  12. Higley, J., Hoffmann-Lange, U., Kadushin, C., & Moore, G. (1991). Elite Integration in Stable Democracies: A Reconsideration. European Sociological Review, 7, 35–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Higley, J., Kullberg, J., & Pakulski, J. (1996). The Persistence of Postcommunist Elites. Journal of Democracy, 7, 133–147.Google Scholar
  14. Hoffmann-Lange, U. (1992). Eliten, Macht und Konflikt in der Bundesrepublik. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoffmann-Lange, U. (1997). Demokratieentwicklung und Elitentransformation in Deutschland. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 23, 507–530.Google Scholar
  16. Hoffmann-Lange, U. (2008). Studying Elite Versus Mass Opinion. In W. Donsbach & M. W. Traugott (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Public Opinion Research (pp. 53–63). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Joo, J.-H. (2013). A Typology of Political Elites and Its Transformation in China: From “Ideology-Oriented/Replacement” Elites to “Fragmented/Reproductive” Elites. Asian Perspective, 37, 255–279.Google Scholar
  18. Keller, S. (1963). Beyond the Ruling Class. Strategic Elites in Modern Society. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  19. King, G., Keohane, R. O., & Verba, S. (1994). Designing Social Inquiry. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Knoke, D., Pappi, F. U., Broadbent, J., & Tsujinaka, Y. (1996). Comparing Policy Networks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lengyel, G., & Ilonszki, G. (2012). Simulated Democracy and Pseudo-Transformational Leadership in Hungary. In J. Pakulski et al. (Eds.), Elite Foundations of Social Theory and Politics. Special Issue of Historical Social Research, 37(1), 107–126.Google Scholar
  22. Lijphart, A. (2012). Patterns of Democracy (2nd ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Linz, J. J., & Stepan, A. (1996). Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  24. Meisel, J. H. (1958). The Myth of the Ruling Class. Gaetano Mosca and the “Elite”. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  25. Miliband, R. (1969). The State in Capitalist Society. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  26. Mills, C. W. (1956). The Power Elite. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Milner, M., Jr. (2015). Elites. A General Model. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  28. Pareto, V. (1935). The Mind and Society. A Treatise on General Sociology. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
  29. Putnam, R. D. (1976). The Comparative Study of Political Elites. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  30. Ruostetsaari, I. (2006). Social Upheaval and Transformation of Elite Structures. The Case of Finland. Political Studies, 54(1), 23–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ruostetsaari, I. (2013). Opening the Inner Circle of Power Circulation among the Finnish Elites in the Context of Major Societal Changes 1991–2011. Comparative Sociology, 12(2), 255–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schumpeter, J. A. (1942). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper & Brothers.Google Scholar
  33. Scott, J. (2008). Modes of Power and the Re-conceptualization of Elites. In M. Savage & K. Williams (Eds.), Remembering Elites. Sociological Review, 56(s1), 27–43.Google Scholar
  34. Stepan, A. (1986). Paths Toward Redemocratization: Theoretical and Comparative Considerations. In G. O’Donnell, P. C. Schmitter, & L. Whitehead (Eds.), Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. Comparative Perspectives (pp. 64–84). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Zapf, W. (1965). Wandlungen der deutschen Elite. München: Piper.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ursula Hoffmann-Lange
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BambergBambergGermany

Personalised recommendations