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{{About|a sociological term|the 1984 game|Elite (video game)|the series|Élite (TV series)|other uses|Elite (disambiguation)}}{{Globalize||United States|date=November 2017}}File:The Royal Feast of Belshazzar Blaine and the Money Kings (1884).jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|Political cartoon from October 1884, showing wealthy plutocrats feasting at a table while a poor family begs beneath]]In political and sociological theory, the elite (French élite, from Latin eligere) are a small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the "elite" are "those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type."weblink states that the power elite members recognize other members' mutual exalted position in society.BOOK, Doob, Christopher, Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, 2013, Pearson Education Inc., 2013, 978-0-205-79241-2, 18, "As a rule, 'they accept one another, understand one another, marry one another, tend to work, and to think, if not together at least alike'."BOOK, Doob, Christopher, Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, 2013, Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 978-0-205-79241-2, 38, BOOK, Mills, Charles W., The Power Elite, 4–5, "It is a well-regulated existence where education plays a critical role. Youthful upper-class members attend prominent preparatory schools, which not only open doors to such elite universities as Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton, but also to the universities' highly exclusive clubs. These memberships in turn pave the way to the prominent social clubs located in all major cities and serving as sites for important business contacts".BOOK, Doob, Christopher, Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, 2013, Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, new Jersey, 978-0-205-79241-2, 38, BOOK, Mills, Charles W., The Power Elite, 1956, 63–67,

Elitist privilege

According to Mills, men receive the education necessary for elitist privilege to obtain their background and contacts, allowing them to enter three branches of the power elite, which are;
  • The Political Leadership: Mills contended that since the end of World War II, corporate leaders had become more prominent in the political process, with a decline in central decision-making for professional politicians.
  • The Military Circle: In Mills' time a heightened concern about warfare existed, making top military leaders and such issues as defense funding and personnel recruitment very important. Most prominent corporate leaders and politicians were strong proponents of military spending.
  • The Corporate Elite: According to Mills, in the 1950s when the military emphasis was pronounced, it was corporate leaders working with prominent military officers who dominated the development of policies. These two groups tended to be mutually supportive.BOOK, Doob, Christopher, Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, 2013, Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 978-0-205-79241-2, 39, BOOK, Mills, Charles W., The Power Elite, 1956, 274–276,
According to Mills, the governing elite in the United States primarily draws its members from political leaders, including the president, and a handful of key cabinet members, as well as close advisers, major corporate owners and directors, and high-ranking military officers.BOOK, Power elite, Ritzer, George, Ryan, J. Michael, The Concise Encyclopedia of Sociology, John Wiley & Sons, 2007, 978-1-4051-8353-6, 466,weblink Powell, Jason L., Chamberlain, John M., These groups overlap and elites tend to circulate from one sector to another, consolidating power in the process.Powell, Jason L. (2007) "power elite" in George Ritzer (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Blackwell Publishing, 2007, pp. 3602-3603Unlike the ruling class, a social formation based on heritage and social ties, the power elite is characterized by the organizational structures through which its wealth is acquired. According to Mills, the power elite rose from "the managerial reorganization of the propertied classes into the more or less unified stratum of the corporate rich".Mills, Charles W. The Power Elite, p 147. Domhoff further clarified the differences in the two terms: "The upper class as a whole does not do the ruling. Instead, class rule is manifested through the activities of a wide variety of organizations and institutions...Leaders within the upper class join with high-level employees in the organizations they control to make up what will be called the power elite".Domhoff, William G, Who Rules America Now? (1997), p. 2.The Marxist theoretician Nikolai Bukharin anticipated the elite theory in his 1929 work, Imperialism and World Economy: "present-day state power is nothing but an entrepreneurs' company of tremendous power, headed even by the same persons that occupy the leading positions in the banking and syndicate offices".Bukharin, Nikolai. Imperialism and World Economy (1929)

Power elite

The power elite is a term used by American sociologist C. Wright Mills to describe a relatively small, loosely connected group of individuals who dominate American policy making. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, media, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers.power elite. (n.d.). The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved January 18, 2015, from website:weblink basis for membership of a power elite is institutional power, namely an influential position within a prominent private or public organization. A study of the French corporate elite has shown that social class continues to hold sway in determining who joins this elite group, with those from the upper-middle class tending to dominate.JOURNAL, Maclean, Mairi, Harvey, Charles, Kling, Gerhard, 2014-06-01, Pathways to Power: Class, Hyper-Agency and the French Corporate Elite, Organization Studies, en, 35, 6, 825–855, 10.1177/0170840613509919, 0170-8406,weblink Another study (published in 2002) of power elites in the United States under President George W. Bush (in office 2001-2009) identified 7,314 institutional positions of power encompassing 5,778 individuals.BOOK, Dye, Thomas, Who's Running America? The Bush Restoration, 7th edition,weblink
isbn=9780130974624, A later study of U.S. society noted demographic characteristics of this elite group as follows:
Age : Corporate leaders aged about 60; heads of foundations, law, education, and civic organizations aged around 62; government employees aged about 56.
Gender : Men contribute roughly 80% in the political realm whereas women contribute roughly only 20% in the political realm. In the economic denomination, {{as of|October 2017|lc=on}}, only 32 (6.4%) of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.WEB, Fortune 500 list,weblink Fortune, 14 November 2017,
Ethnicity : White Anglo-Saxons dominate in the power elite, with Protestants representing about 80% of the top business leaders, and about 73% of members of Congress. {{as of|October 2017}}, only 4 (0.8%) of the Fortune 500 CEOs are African American. In similarly low proportions, {{as of|October 2017|lc=on}}, 10 (2%) of the Fortune 500 CEOs are Latino, and 10 (2%) are Asian.
Education : Nearly all the leaders have a college education, with almost half graduating with advanced degrees. About 54% of the big-business leaders, and 42% of the government elite graduated from just 12 prestigious universities with large endowments.
Social clubs : Most holders of top positions in the power elite possess exclusive membership to one or more social clubs. About a third belong to a small number of especially prestigious clubs in major cities like London, New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
BOOK, Doob, Christopher, Social Inequality and Social Stratification in U.S. Society, 2012, Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 42,

Impacts on economy

In the 1970s an organized set of policies promoted reduced taxes, especially for the wealthy, and a steady erosion of the welfare safety net.{{harvnb|Jenkins and Eckert 2000}} Starting with legislation in the 1980s, the wealthy banking community successfully lobbied for reduced regulation.{{harvnb|Francis 2007}} The wide range of financial and social capital accessible to the power elite gives their members heavy influence in economic and political decision making, allowing them to move toward attaining desired outcomes. Sociologist Christopher Doob gives a hypothetical alternative, stating that these elite individuals would consider themselves the overseers of the national economy. Also appreciating that it is not only a moral, but a practical necessity to focus beyond their group interests. Doing so would hopefully alleviate various destructive conditions affecting large numbers of less affluent citizens.

Global politics and hegemony

Mills determined that there is an "inner core" of the power elite involving individuals that are able to move from one seat of institutional power to another. They therefore, have a wide range of knowledge and interests in many influential organizations, and are, as Mills describes, "professional go-betweens of economic, political, and military affairs".Mills, Charles W. The Power Elite, p 288. Relentless expansion of capitalism and the globalizing of economic and military power, binds leaders of the power elite into complex relationships with nation states that generate global-scale class divisions. Sociologist Manuel Castells writes in The Rise of the Network Society that contemporary globalization does not mean that "everything in the global economy is global".BOOK, Castells, Manuel, The Rise of the Network Society, 1996, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., Malden, MA, 978-1557866172, 101, So, a global economy becomes characterized by fundamental social inequalities with respect to the "level of integration, competitive potential and share of the benefits from economic growth".BOOK, Castells, Manuel, The Rise of the Network Society, 1996, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., Malden, MA, 978-1557866172, 108, Castells cites a kind of "double movement" where on one hand, "valuable segments of territories and people" become "linked in the global networks of value making and wealth appropriation", while, on the other, "everything and everyone" that is not valued by established networks gets "switched off...and ultimately discarded". The wide-ranging effects of global capitalism ultimately affect everyone on the planet, as economies around the world come to depend on the functioning of global financial markets, technologies, trade and labor.

See also

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Further reading

  • BOOK, Ansell, Ben W., Samuels, David J., Inequality and Democratization : An Elite-Competition Approach, 2015, Cambridge University Press, New York, 9780521168793, 900952620,
  • Heinrich Best, Ronald Gebauer & Axel Salheiser (Eds.): weblink" title="">Political and Functional Elites in Post-Socialist Transformation: Central and East Europe since 1989/90. Historical Social Research 37 (2), Special Issue, 2012.
  • Jan Pakulski, Heinrich Best, Verona Christmas-Best & Ursula Hoffmann-Lange (Eds.): weblink" title="">Elite Foundations of Social Theory and Politics. Historical Social Research 37 (1), Special Issue, 2012.
  • BOOK, Dogan, Mattei, Elite configurations at the apex of power, BRILL, 2003, 978-90-04-12808-8,weblink
  • BOOK, Domhoff, G. William, The power elite and the state: how policy is made in America, Transaction Publishers, 1990, 978-0-202-30373-4,weblink
  • BOOK, Hartmann, Michael, The sociology of elites, Taylor & Francis, 2007, 978-0-415-41197-4,weblink
  • BOOK, Rothkopf, David, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, Macmillan, 2009, 978-0-374-53161-4,weblink
  • BOOK, Scott, John, The Sociology of Elites: The study of elites, Edward Elgar, 1990, 978-1-85278-390-7,weblink
  • JOURNAL, Jenkins, Craig, Eckert, Craig, 2000, The Right Turn in Economic Policy: Business Elites and the New Conservative Economics, Sociological Forum, 15, 2, 307–338, 10.1023/A:1007573625240, 684818,
  • JOURNAL, Francis, David, 2007, Government Regulation Stages a Comeback, Christian Scientist Monitor, 14,weblink 5 December 2012,

External links

{{Social class|state=expanded}}{{wealth}}{{Authority control}}

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