Elite Theory

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  • A theory that posits that irrespective of the form of government, a privileged few (elites) will always control the state. Classic elite theory is based in part on the works of Robert Michels, Gaetano Mosca, and Vilfredo Pareto.

    Modern elite theorists have expanded the application of elite theory distinguishing political elites and providing an analysis to understanding the ways in which elite groups differentiate and proliferate to maintain power. Political elites radically affect national political outcomes by their status of authority in influential organizations, movements, or social groups. The authoritative status may be given based on merit or be taken by right or might. Some argue that for proliferation to occur, elite groups must compete for mass support and, in doing so, give each citizen greater ...

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