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Elite interaction and integration

Civil Society Elites?

Notions like elite interaction, interlock and integration have a central place in elite research.

Studies investigate social network features and their interlocking effects of for instance corporate boardroom. Others investigate mobility between sectors (and workplaces), using terms like ‘revolving doors’ or ‘pantouflage’ to capture career pathways and mobility between sectors. This has been particularly evident in analyses of political elites. Of key concern here is under what conditions such mobility is possible and/or prohibited, which factors seem to enhance and/or restrict such sector-mobility and to what extent mobility enhances and/or restricts pathways to elite positions?

This thematic study takes stock of existing research into elite integration by investigating the potential interaction between and integration of civil society elites and other elite groups. There is limited research on to what extent, how and with what consequences presidents, secretary generals and directors in civil society take up positions in politics or business and what such mobility might imply for their legitimacy, authenticity and capacity to represent civil society (or vice versa). Our analysis is directed to the boundary crossers/movers and what capital and field positions are required and gained through doing so.

The concepts of interaction and integration as used in elite studies are, we argue, well suited to explore the characteristics and experiences of civil society elites. Hence, we propose the following two research questions that will guide this thematic study:

  1. To what extent, how, and with what consequences do civil society leaders interact with other elite groups?
  2. To what extent, how, and with what consequences are elite groups in civil society integrated with other elite groups?

At present we plan to study this through extensive sets of biographical life-history interviews with key civil society leaders in the five contexts of the research program. This allows us to address what motivations and values that underlie elite-formation, if there is a particular charismatic or motivational leadership for civil society elite groups and what characterize those who move between and across sector differences. We will also conduct studies of what we refer to as exclusive arenas for elite interaction and integration in each respective context, for instance linked to prestigious networks, arenas and events of particular importance for actors to gains status and recognition.

Scientific coordinators

Malin Arvidson
Email: malin [dot] arvidson [at] soch [dot] lu [dot] se

Anders Uhlin
Email: anders [dot] uhlin [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se