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Democratic Elitism – Conflict and Consensus

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

Classical elite theory stressed tensions between elites and democracy, whereas modern studies of elites take democracy as a point of departure – to a large extent under the heading of democratic elitism. This article discusses two strands of elite studies in a democracy perspective, one stressing elite conflict, the other focusing on elite consensus. As points of departure for empirical analysis both strands are valuable, but when linked to democratic theory they are insufficient. It is necessary to view elites in light of constitutional features that regulate their relationship with the state. Moreover, the public sphere must be taken into account as a constitutive element of democracy and as an arena for communication between elite groups and between them and citizenries.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1096 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway


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