The Power Elite in the Welfare State 2012-7: Key Institutional Orders of the Power Networks in Denmark

Christoph Houman Ellersgaard, Anton Grau Larsen

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Individuals sitting at the core of elite networks functions as the broker between overlapping sectoral networks of key institutional orders and aligns with the definition of the power elite proposed by C. Wright Mills. This paper proposes a methodological framework to identify this group across different settings. We argue that the composition and size of this core group reflect the relative importance of different institutional orders and the concentration of power within the limits of the nation-state. The types of elites included in the network core thus reflects the form and balance of power in a society.
Within a two very comprehensive set of network data, composed of around 5,000 potentially powerful affiliations containing approximately 38,000 individuals holding around 56,000 positions, we identify a modified version of k-cores of around 400 individuals in 2012 and 2017.
While more than half of the individuals in the core have changed, the core group exhibits a remarkable institutional stability. First, the distribution of sectoral affiliations remains almost identical, as just over half were employed in the corporate world with the rest split fairly evenly amongst union leaders, academics, senior civil servants and politicians. Other sectors, such as cultural elites, army, clergy or judiciary were all but excluded from the core group in both years.
Secondly, the organizational affiliation also remain stable. Four out of five in 2017 were employed in an organization, which had a member in 2012 as well. Furthermore, the most central individuals were employed by, and connected through, the same affiliations.
Lastly, we show that the social exclusivity of this group when it comes to social background, ethnic background, education and residence remaining largely the same. However, we do see a substantial tendency to include more women, albeit from a very low starting point, with the share of women going up from 20 % to 26 % percent in just five years.
Lastly, we discuss how the stability of elite network is tied to strong corporatist institutions in Denmark, reducing the elite fracture found elsewhere. Furthermore, our results highlight the need to bring organizational affiliation back into elite research to understand the balance our power between institutions in society.
StatusUdgivet - 2020
BegivenhedSASE 32nd Annual Conference 2020 - Virtual: Development Today: Accumulation, Surveillance, Redistribution - Virtual, Amsterdam, Holland
Varighed: 18 jul. 202021 jul. 2021
Konferencens nummer: 32


KonferenceSASE 32nd Annual Conference 2020 - Virtual