Jan Pakulski, Heinrich Best, Verona Christmas-Best & Ursula Hoffmann-Lange (Eds.): Elite Foundations of Social Theory and Politics.
This special issue of the HSR is dedicated to John Higley in honour of his continued accomplishment as a distinguished scholar and prolific author whose seminal publications on the role of elites in politics and society have contributed to the contemporary revival of elite research. The volume assembles contributions from fourteen authors, ranging from theoretical analyses to empirical studies of elites in old and new democracies. Proceeding from the emergence of elites with the advent of complex societies, the chapters show the wide application of elite theory in understanding social and political developments.
One group of chapters focuses on the continued relevance of three classics of elite theory, Max Weber, Gaetano Mosca, and Joseph Schumpeter, which call into question some unrealistically optimistic assumptions of the theory of democratic elitism and egalitarian socialism. Another group addresses post-communist elite transformations and the formation of transnational elites, and demonstrates the relevance of elite studies for understanding abrupt as well as gradual regime change. A final group of papers discusses the dynamics of elite-mass relations by comparing the attitudes and behaviours of elites to those of mass publics. In addition to these dedicated contributions, the issue also includes reprints of a selection of John Higley’s seminal articles and book chapters.