The British Political Elite

The British Political Elite

The British Political Elite

The British Political Elite

Excerpt

This book deals with the evolution of the British Political Elite and its changing social composition since the first Reform Act in 1832. Against this historical background I have attempted to analyse the political leadership within the two major parties as well as within the wider group of those who occupy positions of power and influence in our Society. In doing so I was led beyond a formal sociological analysis of concrete groups of politicians to a consideration of selection processes in the field of politics and to an assessment of the distribution of power in British Society today.

My interest in the theme of this book arose during post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics. Some of the material contained in Chapter IV, VI and VII was first presented in a thesis submitted to the University of London for the degree of M.Sc. (Econ.) and elaborated in articles which appeared in the British Journal of Sociology in June 1951 and March 1954. Chapter IX is based on a contribution to Political Decision -- Makers: Recruitment and Performance edited by Dwaine Marwick and published by the Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois., whom I should like to thank for their permission to reproduce parts of it. The quotations from W. B. Yeats are taken from the Collected Poems published by Macmillan.

My debt to the London School of Economics has grown over the years; its Library formed in more senses than one the 'operational basis' for this work. I am grateful for the grant of a period of sabbatical leave during the summer of 1961 which enabled me to devote myself for a few months wholly to work on this book. I should also like to thank the Sociological Research Division of the School for a grant which enabled me to obtain some assistance in connection with biographical researches into the membership of some contemporary élite groups and to Mr C. Robertson for carrying out this laborious task.

It is however to many friends and former colleagues at the London School of Economics . . .

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