Rethinking Elite Research
Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
This position paper lays out a new formulation for understanding elite formation in contemporary neo-liberal capitalism, though a critical review of the conceptual and methodological framework appropriate to 21st century business elite analysis. We argue that analysis of elites has traditionally rested on conceptions either of an ‘establishment’, where an ‘old boy’s network’ is connected by personal ties, or of a control elite exercising power from the apex of large organisations so as to realise some social project. This latter approach became theoretically problematic after Poulantzas argued for the relative autonomy of elite groups and with the subsequent theoretical insistence on the depersonalisation of power relations in an age of capillary power. However, we insist that it remains vital to focus on the role of key individuals as agents within contemporary capitalism. We propose to do this by drawing on recent innovations in social network analysis and in the sociology of stratification, which are set in the context of restructuring in present day neo-liberal capitalism. On this basis, we argue for a different conception of present day UK and US business elites that starts from a recognition of the fluidity of contemporary organisation and the position of various intermediaries, such as investment bankers and consultants, in bridging roles.
elites, social networks, establishment, social stratification2006112