The Craft of Elite Prosopography

Jacob Aagaard Lunding*, Christoph Ellersgaard, Anton Grau Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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


Prosopograhies, or collective biographies offer a systematic approach to collecting data and describing elite groups. To really reap the fruits of this approach it is important that the definition of the elite group in question is based on a solid theoretical and empirical specification of boundaries. We suggest avoiding only relying on official categories and develop a relation approach to defining elite populations. Furthermore, we argue that well-defined elite populations should be analysed through relational methods, such as Multiple Correspondence Analysis, Social Network Analysis and Sequence Analysis. We argue that these methods offers ‘descriptive assemblages’ that allow scholars to do an empirically sound and visually convincing cartography of power structures. We provide an overview of possible data sources for prosopographical data and discuss how well suited the data sources are for the three abovementioned forms of relation methods. We also provide examples of the specific way of structuring data on attributes, social relations and states, which are most compatible with the three methods.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Elites and Power : Theory, Methods, Analyses
EditorsFrancois Denord, Mikael Palme, Bertrand Réau
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9783030451745
ISBN (Electronic)9783030451752
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesMethodos Series. Methodological Prospects in the Social Sciences

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