Civil society elites?

Comparing elite composition, reproduction, integration and contestation in European civil societies" is a research programme based at the School of Social Work, Lund University. The progamme is funded by Riksbankens jubileumsfond 2018-2023.
Civil society meeting, men in suits

Why is it interesting to study civil society elites?

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are usually seen as vehicles for advocacy with the key function of challenging economic and political elites. Our purpose is to study people with leading positions in civil society. We want to see what backgrounds they have, education and values, as well as how they are socialized into elite positions.

We also want to analyse what it is that allows some to move between society's different spheres of power. How come certain leaders are invited to events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos and what do such engagements mean for the legitimacy of these people to act as leaders of civil society organizations?

Do people in positions of power within civil society come from the grassroots or do they have backgrounds similar to other social elites? And what happens to former ideals when you move between different power spheres in society?

Social scientists have always studied the traditional elites and in recent years, social scientists at Lund University have received substantial funding for studies of civil society. Now we are merging the two research fields: civil society and elite research.