By the study of politics is here meant the study of influence and the influential. The influential cannot be satisfactorily described by the use of a single index. To some extent influence is indicated by claims over values, like deference, income, safety. But deference may not go to the rich, and safety may not go to the distinguished. Plainly different results may be obtained by different criteria of influence.
The results of political analysis depend also on the characteristics of the elite which it is proposed to explore. This book has spoken of skill, class, personality, and attitude groups, and discussed the meaning of social change for the relative ascendancy of such formations. The most important political analysis of modern times (the Marxist) has concentrated attention upon the class results of social change. This has diverted attention from many equally relevant ways of viewing the results of social life, such as the fate of skill, personality, and attitude groups.
Emphasis on class, like emphasis on skill or personality, is a methodological contrivance of systematic thinkers, a selected frame of reference to be held constant during the course of a particular act of analysis. The act of using new frames of reference for purposes of political analysis will, as usual, modify the preferences of those who use them. Those accustomed to think in terms of community attitudes (like nationality, nationalism) have often obtained new insights by the use of class analysis, and often modified