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Levels Within Elites

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Inner circle; Oligarchy; Power elite; Ruling class; Upper class


Researchers on leadership have presented numerous definitions of an elite. Here elite refers to people who by virtue of their strategic position in influential organizations or in formally nonorganized social groups are capable of regularly exercising influence on the formation of significant societal decisions.


The essence of classical elite theory can be reduced to Gaetano Mosca’s (1939, 50) claim that there are in all societies two classes of people: a class that rules and a class that is ruled. Elite theory and study on elites have been criticized for working with an overly simplistic division between elites and the mass, with the former thought to hold power and the latter thought to be excluded from power. Although elements of such thinking can be detected in the best-known works of elite theory, the elite position is not a black-and-white, either-or proposition. Elite theory can...


  • Socioeconomic Background
  • Elite Group
  • Power Elite
  • Horizontal Circulation
  • Senior Civil Servant

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Correspondence to Ilkka Ruostetsaari .

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© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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Ruostetsaari, I. (2016). Levels Within Elites. In: Farazmand, A. (eds) Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Springer, Cham.

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