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Opening the Inner Circle of Power: Circulation among the Finnish Elites in the Context of Major Societal Changes 1991–2011

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract The present study assessed the extent to which elite circulation has changed in Finland in the context of substantial social changes since the early 1990s. We first analyzed changes in vertical social mobility, i.e., recruitment to the elites, and then, changes in horizontal social mobility, i.e., circulation within the elites. The study was methodologically based on the positional approach, and postal/Internet surveys of members within the elites were conducted in 1991, 2001, and 2011. The hypotheses were derived from major social changes that have occurred in the Finnish society since the early 1990s. Since many of these societal changes focused most profoundly on people of lowest socio-economic position, we first hypothesized, that recruitment from these groups to the elites had decreased, i.e., the openness of the elite structure had been reduced. According to second hypothesis, the retention of elite positions had become less secure due to decreased societal stability and increased scandals implicating the elites. Moreover, since the political decision-makers were responsible for many social changes, and the political elite is the sole elite group whose ascendancy depends mainly on the support of the population, we also hypothesized that societal changes have exerted the most effect on the political elite.

Affiliations: 1: School of Management / Politics University of Tampere Finland


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