The Historical Danish Civil Society Elite: Prosopography and Integration (1910 – Present)

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Literature on Nordic civil society routinely stress how civil society – voluntary associations emerging in 19th century – have from the beginning been integrated in state relations. Neo-corporatist as well as Habermasian and ‘third sector’ approaches have stressed how voluntary associations have been supported financially, regulated, co-opted or forced to change organizational form by the state, while state welfare has been influenced by voluntary ‘logics’ in processes of so called colonization and reversed colonization. In this paper, we suggest to research the historical societal integration (or incorporation) of civil society not through regulations, finance, or coercion, but through the ties of elite individuals in these organizations. Using Social Network Analysis on a unique data set of the elite population of Danish society as recorded by the Danish Who’s Who, the paper aims to carry out a prosopography (collective biography) of the historical Danish civil society elite (SCE) as well as a study of its structural integration into the wider societal elite. We test two hypotheses in the paper: 1) In the first half of the period, the Danish SCE was divided into philanthropic and a self-organized ‘pillars’ with distinct prosopographical characteristics and different levels of integration. This hypotheses builds on the historical fact that unions, insurance, housing, temperance and other movements consisted of competing socialist and philanthropic organizations. 2) In the second period, as the state takes on more functions and becomes the central arena for struggle, a prosopographically more homogenous CSE emerges – now divided between a well-integrated labor movement elite integrated through the capture of political power by social democrats and an increasingly side-stepped third sector elite.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventECPR Joint Sessions Virtual Event 2021 - , WWW
Duration: 17 May 202128 May 2021


ConferenceECPR Joint Sessions Virtual Event 2021
Internet address


  • Civil society
  • Elites
  • Social movements
  • Welfare state
  • Political sociology

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