Since the financial crisis, the issue of the ‘one percent’ has become the centre of intense public debate, unavoidable even for members of the elite themselves. Moreover, inquiring into elites has taken centre-stage once again in both journalistic investigations and academic research.

New Directions in Elite Studies attempts to move the social scientific study of elites beyond economic analysis, which has greatly improved our knowledge of inequality, but is restricted to income and wealth. In contrast, this book mobilizes a broad scope of research methods to uncover the social composition of the power elite – the ‘field of power’. It reconstructs processes through which people gain access to positions in this particular social space, examines the various forms of capital they mobilize in the process – economic, but also cultural and social capital – and probes changes over time and variations across national contexts.

Bringing together the most advanced research into elites by a European and multidisciplinary group of scholars, this book presents an agenda for the future study of elites. It will appeal to all those interested in the study of elites, inequality, class, power, and gender inequality.

chapter 1|28 pages


ByJohan Heilbron, Felix Bühlmann, Johs. Hjellbrekke, Olav Korsnes, Mike Savage

section 1|61 pages

The myth of a global business elite

chapter 2|15 pages

The international business elite

Fact or fiction?
ByMichael Hartmann

chapter 3|27 pages

Degrees of transnationalization

The case of the Dutch business elite
ByRob Timans, Johan Heilbron

chapter 4|17 pages

Dynamics of internationalization

A sequential analysis of the careers of Swiss banking elites
ByPedro Araujo

section 2|83 pages

Scrutinizing the power elite and the field of power

chapter 5|20 pages

A place at what table?

An analysis of symbolic capital hierarchies at the annual dinner of Norges Bank (the Norwegian central bank)
ByJohs. Hjellbrekke, Olav Korsnes

chapter 6|20 pages

The gendered reproduction of the upper class

ByMaren Toft, Magne Flemmen

chapter 7|17 pages

A Scandinavian variety of power elites?

Key institutional orders in Danish elite networks 1
ByAnton Grau Larsen, Christoph Houman Ellersgaard

chapter 8|24 pages

The anatomy of the British economic “elite”

ByMike Savage, Katharina Hecht, Johs. Hjellbrekke, Niall Cunningham, Daniel Laurison

section 3|69 pages

Social closure and reproduction strategies

chapter 9|21 pages

The social history of a capitalist class

Wealth holders in Stockholm, 1914–2006
ByMartin Gustavsson, Andreas Melldahl

chapter 10|29 pages

Beyond meritocracy

Wealth accumulation in the German upper classes
ByNora Waitkus, Olaf Groh-Samberg

chapter 11|17 pages

Gendering the elites

An ethnographic approach to elite women’s lives and the reproduction of inequality
ByLuna Glucksberg

section 4|71 pages

Elite education, recruitment and legitimacy

chapter 12|18 pages

The elite placement power of professors of law and economic sciences

ByFelix Bühlmann, Thierry Rossier, Pierre Benz

chapter 13|15 pages

Elite … but not that elite

Envisioning elite status at a second-rank grande école
ByLozach Ugo

chapter 14|17 pages

Boundary work Power and liminality in management consulting 1

ByStein Felix

chapter 15|19 pages

Theorizing elites in unequal times

Class, constellation and accumulation
BySavage Mike, Georgia Nichols