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Democratic Elitism – Conflict And Consensus

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Chapter Summary

Two separate debates have emerged around democratic elitism. One refers to the relationship between the electorate and elected political representatives. The second debate concerns the interrelationships of political and other elites in democracies' day-to-day decision-making processes. By contrasting two theoretical approaches to these interrelations, this chapter seeks to illuminate this important aspect of democratic elitism. One approach is charted by Eva Etzioni-Halévy in The Elite Connection (1993), in which democratic elitism is rooted in a theory of inter-elite conflict. The other approach is charted in a series of articles initiated by Gwen Moore's analysis of elite integration in the United States (Moore 1979) and in comparative analyses of American, Australian, and West German elites. This approach roots democratic elitism in a theory of elite consensus. The brief overview of the Etzioni-Halévy and Moore-Higley approaches to democracy highlights two opposing conceptions of elite relationships.

Keywords: democratic elitism; elite relationships; Etzioni-Halévy approach; Moore-Higley approach; theory of inter-elite conflict



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