« Elite theory is a little more than a thinking-man's conspiracy theory » : do you agree?
- The elite theory fails to provide a scientific explanation of the existence of the elite and could be wrongly qualified as a conspiracy theory
- However, the elite theory is ontologically and normatively much more than a conspiracy theory
- The British elite as the result of a historical process rather than an inevitable fact
- The empirical efforts to overcome the difficulties of the theory
Among the various theories of statecraft, the elite theory claims that the power is withheld by a minority of the society, the ruling class or power elite. This expression of "power elite" implies that this elite is not only the group entitled with policy-making, but more accurately the people who truly influence and affect the power. The question of the definition of the elites arises thus from these remarks. Is the elite a social class in the sense of a group defined by its wealth or is the criteria different? According to Mike Savage and Karel Williams, this criteria of definition of the elite is the one of power: "those who have a formal relationship to power in one of the established political or sociological usages of that term". The elite theory includes the existence of an elite, but it does not necessarily argue that such repartition of the power is suitable or not, and therefore the normative views within this theory are diverse. However, the elite theory has long bee criticized for its degree of affirmation, in other words, for its assumption that the elite exists, but failing to provide the necessary information on how it emerged and how it uses the power that it is entitled with.