Theoretical and methodological pathways for research on elites

Bruno Cousin, Shamus Khan, Ashley Mears

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

84 Scopus citations


In this introductory essay to our special issue on elites, we outline some of the major challenges to research in this area and propose a series of theoretical and methodological pathways to address them. Theoretically we make four recommendations: (a) greater attentiveness to and specificity about the relationship between elites and power; (b) a clearer articulation of the relationships between elites and the varieties of capitalism; (c) far more attention to diversity within elites and the use of elites to understand forms of domination like white supremacy and masculine domination and (d) expanding beyond the orthodox form of Bourdieusian theoretical frameworks. Methodologically we outline how research using survey instruments, social network analysis (SNA) (and multiple correspondence analysis), interviews, ethnographic observation, experiments, archival research, administrative data and content analysis can each be deployed, built upon or redirected to help bring elites into greater focus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-249
Number of pages25
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Elites
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Methodology
  • Power
  • Sociology
  • Theory


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