Elite Configurations at the Apex of Power

Elite Configurations at the Apex of Power

Elite Configurations at the Apex of Power

Elite Configurations at the Apex of Power


Diversity of Elite Configurations
and Clusters of Power


This book has been prepared in the framework of the Research Committee on Political Elites, sponsored by the International Political Science Association. Several chapters of this book are revised versions of papers presented at the World Congress of Political Science in Quebec City in July 2000. It follows another book generated by our research group: Elites, Crises and the Ongins of Regimes.

The notion of configuration which appears in the title of this book has the same meaning as in astronomy: the position of planetary corps in relation to one another. In elite studies, configuration means the relative position and size of various elite circles (political, bureaucratic, capitalist, managerial, cultural, religious, military, etc.) in the constellation of power.

By “apex of power,” we are referring to an infinitesimal part of the population; perhaps one person per thousand of the adult population. In countries like Britain, Italy and France, a few thousand individuals would be included in the highest circles of power. Around them gravitate other elites of lesser weight, who may or may not be included in the analysis.

Elite interlock or interpenetration signifies movements from one power summit to another, not movements within the same sphere: for instance, a jump from the summit of the civil service to a political elite position, from the leadership of a State corporation to that of a private corporation, from union to party leadership. The essentially horizontal concept of elite interpenetration is not related to Pareto’s vertical concept of elite circulation.

Functional elite diversity refers to the differentiation of elites according to structural functions — political, economic, administrative, military, cultural, etc., as opposed to “elite cohesion” in a strictly political sense . . .

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