This special issue of Historical Social Research explores new territories of elite theory and research by presenting recent and ongoing debates in this field. The themes linking the contributions are the increasingly challenged status of elites under the premises of globalization, what their own contribution is to eliciting these challenges, and what their responses are to them. A special focus is the crucial importance of citizens in today´s democracies and its impact on elite-citizen relations. The fourteen original contributions to this special issue were selected from presentations at the IPSA congresses in Poznań (2016) or Brisbane (2018) and from the comparative study on “Support for Democracy. Citizens and their Representatives in Times of Crisis”.
It covers subjects like how different segments of the European Elite System responded to the great recession after 2008, the responses of political elites to the collapse of the political system in Tunisia, the attempts of US-American political elites to consolidate the normative and institutional bases for its global leadership and the ideological and policy congruences between representatives and represented in seven countries. The introductory chapter develops a unified theory of representative elites by combining the three theorems of antagonistic cooperation, the principal-agent theorem and the challenge-response theorem and applies it to the recent surge of populism.