The Danish Civil Society Elite 1910–2020: Continuity, Reproduction and Integration

Anders Sevelsted*, Jacob Aagaard Lunding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter analyses the case of the historical development of the Danish civil society elite from 1910 to 2020. Existing approaches focus on elites in civil society, while this study focuses on elites of civil society, that is, leaders of central civil society organisations in Denmark. Using social network analysis, the analysis builds on a dataset from the Danish Who’s Who from 1910, 1965, and 2020. The study shows the causes that this elite has engaged in, the composition and reproduction of the elite, and the integration of this elite with other sector elites. Findings indicate a democratising, but distinguished elite concentrated in the capital and born by elite parents. They have continuous high engagement in health and humanitarian aid, but a declining engagement in housing and crime prevention. This elite is well integrated with the state, less so with politics, and increasingly with the educational-scientific sector, pointing to ‘diploma governance’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivil Society Elites : Exploring the Composition, Reproduction, Integration, and Contestation of Civil Society Actors at the Top
EditorsHåkan Johansson, Anna Meeuwisse
Number of pages25
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2024
ISBN (Print)9783031401497, 9783031401527
ISBN (Electronic)9783031401503
Publication statusPublished - 2024
SeriesPalgrave Studies in Third Sector Research


  • Civil society
  • Elites
  • Social movements
  • Third sector
  • Philanthropy
  • Social network analysis

Cite this