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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2008

GOV 390L • Elite Theory & Comparative Polit

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39595 W
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
CBA 4.336
Higley, J

Course Description

References to elites are ubiquitous in the literature of comparative politics, but few comparative scholars who regularly invoke elites as key forces do so with any serious attempt to capture elite variation and workings theoretically. This seminar seeks to make amends. It will re-visit, briefly, the classical elite theories of Mosca, Pareto, Michels, and Weber, along with some secondary literature that critiques their theories. The bulk of the seminar will focus on comparative historical and empirical studies of elite circulations, recruitment patterns, network structures, and the outlooks and ideologies of elites. Scholars and projects centered on the IPSA Research Committee for Political Elites, which I chair, will receive significant attention, especially work on democratic elitism, leader democracy, and vexed questions about the quality of contemporary political elites. Throughout, the effort will be to chart more clearly the centrality of elite theory and research in the study of comparative politics.



Vilfredo Pareto, Sociological Writings, introduced and selected by S.E. Finer. Praeger, 1966. A packet of short extracts from Mosca, Michels, and Weber along with several pieces of secondary literature about classical elite theory, e.g., Juan Linz "Robert Michels and his Contribution to Political Sociology in Comparative and Historical Perspective (1966/2006); Joseph Femia, "The Futility Thesis" in Against The Masses (2001). Mattei Dogan, ed., Elite Configurations at the Apex of Power. Brill, 2003. J. Higley and M. Burton, Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy. Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. Geraint Parry, Political Elites, 2nd edition with a new introduction, ECPR Classics, 2006. J. Higley, Elites and Non-Elites in Politics; Neo-Elitist Theory and Analysis, 2008.


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