Research Methods for Studying Elites

  • Elena Semenova


The introduction to Part II, Research Methods for Studying Elites, highlights principal methodological developments in the studies of political elites. They involve: (1) methods for explaining how institutions affect the behavior of elites (e.g., event-history analysis and Social Network Analysis), (2) methods for drawing inferences about political outcomes from the knowledge of elites’ behavior (e.g., surveys and experiments), and (3) methods for analyzing the interactions of various elite groups (e.g., observations and interviews of elite members). In addition, methods that have been rarely used in political elite research (e.g., fuzzy-set typologies and fuzzy cognitive maps) are discussed in terms of their merits for examining elite attitudes, structures, and interactions.


  1. Aberbach, J. D., Putnam, R. D., & Rockman, B. A. (1981). Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aguiar, L. L. M., & Schneider, C. J. (2012). Researching amongst Elites: Challenges and Opportunities in Studying Up. London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  3. Axelrod, R. (Ed.). (1976). Structure of Decision: The Cognitive Maps of Political Elites. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Barber, J. D. (1992). The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Best, H. (1990). Die Männer von Bildung und Besitz: Struktur und Handeln parlamentarischer Führungsgruppen in Deutschland und Frankreich 1848/49. Düsseldorf: Droste.Google Scholar
  6. Best, H., Lengyel, G., & Verzichelli, L. (Eds.). (2012). The Europe of Elites: A Study into the Europeanness of Europe’s Political and Economic Elites. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bond, M. (2012). The Bases of Elite Social Behaviour: Patterns of Club Affiliation among Members of the House of Lords. Sociology, 46(4), 613–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Box-Steffensmeier, J. M., Brady, H. E., & Collier, D. (Eds.). (2008). The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Camerlo, M., & Pérez-Liñán, A. (2015). The Politics of Minister Retention in Presidential Systems: Technocrats, Partisans, and Government Approval. Comparative Politics, 47(3), 315–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cotta, M., & Best, H. (Eds.). (2007). Democratic Representation in Europe: Diversity, Change, and Convergence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dahl, R. A. (1961). Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dowding, K. (2016). The Philosophy and Methods of Political Science. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Druckman, J. N., Green, D. P., Kuklinski, J. H., & Lupia, A. (Eds.). (2011). Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Easter, G. M. (2000). Reconstructing the State: Personal Networks and Elite Identity in Soviet Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grimmer, J., & Stewart, B. M. (2013). Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts. Political Analysis, 21(3), 267–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hafner-Burton, E. M., Hughes, D. A., & Victor, D. G. (2013). The Cognitive Revolution and the Political Psychology of Elite Decision Making. Perspectives on Politics, 11(2), 368–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harasymiw, B. (1984). Political Elite Recruitment in the Soviet Union. London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hertz, R., & Imber, J. B. (Eds.). (1995). Studying Elites Using Qualitative Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  19. Higley, J., & Lengyel, G. (2000). Elites after State Socialism: Theories and Analysis. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  20. Moyser, G., & Wagstaffe, M. (Eds.). (1987). Research Methods for Elite Studies. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  21. Padgett, J. F., & Ansell, C. K. (1993). Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434. American Journal of Sociology, 98(6), 1259–1319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Post, J. M. (Ed.). (2003). The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders: With Profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ragin, C. C. (1987). The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Renshon, J. (2015). Losing Face and Sinking Costs: Experimental Evidence on the Judgment of Political and Military Leaders. International Organization, 69(3), 659–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Richardson, L., & John, P. (2009). Is Lobbying Really Effective? A Field Experiment of Local Interest Group Tactics to Influence Elected Representatives in the UK. Paper Prepared for Presentation at the European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions, Lisbon, Portugal, April.Google Scholar
  26. Scharpf, F. W. (1997). Games Real Actors Play: Actor-Centered Institutionalism in Policy Research. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  27. Semenova, E., Edinger, M., & Best, H. (Eds.). (2014). Parliamentary Elites in Central and Eastern Europe: Recruitment and Representation. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Van Dijk, T. A. (1993). Elite Discourse and Racism. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Winter, D. G. (2004). Motivation and the Escalation of Conflict: Case Studies of Individual Leaders. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 10(4), 381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Zeng, J. (2013). What Matters Most in Selecting Top Chinese Leaders? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 18(3), 223–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Semenova
    • 1
  1. 1.Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations