Shamus Rahman Khan

The Many Futures of Élites Research. A Comment on the Symposium



In this paper I argue that the contributions collected in this issue make major advances in our understanding of élites by focusing on developing concrete empirical findings rather than theoretical contributions. These findings point to two things that scholars of élites should more attentive to: first, the structural conditions that work upon élites; second, the ways in which there is no élite, instead there are élites. This variation within élites pushes us to think less about élite "groupness" and more about the intra-élite conflict, how different structural forms work upon and are produced by different élites, and how inter-group collaboration, co-optation, and conflict are possible. Finally, I use these insights to reflect upon how it is that scholars of élites can contribute to our understanding of the recent turn in global politics against liberalism and toward ethno-cultural nationalism.


  • Élites
  • Social Structure
  • Multiple Élites
  • Ethno-Cultural Nationalism


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