Pipers Woerterbuch zur Politik

Authors: Nohlen
Summary: The approximately 900 word entry compares the focus of early elite studies at the turn of the century with works coming out of the renewed interest in the topic since the 1950s, and distinguishes between three main research areas. Common to all studies, according to the entry, is a particular consciousness on the side of the scientists to separate their empirical findings from their normative position towards these research results. Classic elite studies at the turn of the century, for example by Mosca, Pareto and Michels , were critical of democratic ideals to incorporate the masses into the decision- making processes and pointed to the historical fact that there exist always two classes, one that rules and the other that is ruled. They were in that sense also critical of Marxist theories, since they viewed the political power struggle as more important than the class struggle. Later studies, after the renewed interest in the subject in the post-war era, distinguished between three types of elites: norm, functional, and power elite. The latter triggered the most interest in the origins and background, socio -structural make-up and influence channels of those in power positions. According to the entry the literature can be divided into three research areas: the first studies elite-changes in the process of societal development. The second focuses on elite-recruitment, and the third finally compares power structures and the power distribution between political, economic, and military elites in industrialized societies.