Summarizing Studies of the Elite

The following table summarizes classic studies of the elite, with a focus on the U.S.  The table can be downloaded here: Summary of Elite Studies 


Researcher(s) What institutions do they influence?  What else do they influence? How do they influence it? Degree of Elite Cohesion 
Power Elite Mills (1957), Domhoff, Dye (1968-2000) Focus is on political, economic, and military institutions Ideology, national policy Internal cohesion, move in similar social circles, nepotism  High
Strategic Elites Keller (1963) Varies Ideology, national policy within their sphere of influence  Using their position within the institution of which they control  High (within their institution)
Inner Circle Useem (1982) Corporations  Economic and political policy supporting capitalism  Similar interests  Moderate-High
Interlocking Directorates Mizruchi (1970 – 2004) Corporations Economic and political policy supporting capitalism Similar interests Moderate-High

See also the “Ruling Class” theories of Gramsci andPareto (early 1900’s), who argue that elites employ intellectuals to manipulate ideology in order to legitimize their rule.  They argue that the degree of elite cohesion is high.

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