Pillarism Reconsidered: 110 Years of Civial Society Embeddedness in Danish Elite Networks

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    Abstract

    Academic interest in pillarist civil society is growing as elites across the globe increasingly invoke forms of populism and identity politics to gain support among constituencies that exist in socio-culturally segregated enclaves. In this paper, we shed light on the phenomenon of pillarism as we analyze the case of the historical development of the Danish civil society elite from 1910 - 2018. The case of Denmark is interesting, as civil society here emerged in a (weak) pillarized form, but was integrated into the emerging welfare state without conflict or undermining of democracy. The study analyzes a unique dataset built from complete data of the Danish Who’s Who (1910-1943 and 1946-2018). Using Social Network Analysis, the study traces the development of the Danish civil society elite. It first shows the pillarized nature of Danish civil society that is often overlooked in the literature. Second, the development in civil society elite integration into the Danish elite inner circle is traced at an organizational level. It is shown how civil society is first central, then peripheral, and then almost entirely disappeared by the end of the period. Third, an analysis of the period’s changing top-10 civil society organizations reveals how pillarism has been only peripherally central in the elite inner circle during the first 50 years, only to disappear entirely by the end of the period. Finally, the development is interpreted and discussed: While Denmark has had a strong pillarized civil society, the elite seems to have continuously preferred supporting universalist (politically neutral) causes. The statist-consensual elite tradition seems to have won out over the pillarized elite tradition. The development may also reflect changes in elites’ performative use of civil society affiliations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    Event26th World Congress of Political Science 2021: New Nationalisms in an Open World - Virtual, WWW
    Duration: 10 Jul 202115 Jul 2021
    Conference number: 26
    https://wc2021.ipsa.org/wc/home

    Conference

    Conference26th World Congress of Political Science 2021
    Number26
    LocationVirtual
    Country/TerritoryWWW
    Period10/07/202115/07/2021
    Internet address

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