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The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation$
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Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jürgen Wagener

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829911.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 June 2021



(p.492) Chapter 48 Elites
The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation

Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser

Oxford University Press

Although it is obvious that elites play a key role in the guidance of society, there is an open debate about how elites should be defined and studied. This chapter offers a brief conceptualization of elites and argues that this notion should not be conflated with the concept of social class. At the same time, it spells out two perspectives that rely on the elite concept to explain processes of social change: research on transitions (sometimes called ‘transitology’) and comparative historical analysis. While the former tends to analyse shorter time spans, the latter is inclined to examine large periods of time. Despite this difference, both perspectives are very useful when it comes to understanding politics and social transformation.

Keywords:   authoritarianism, comparative politics, democracy, elites, populism, transition

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