Dilemmas of the Modern Theory of Political Elites: What’s Next?

Dilemmas of the Modern Theory of Political Elites:
What’s Next?

Alekseyeva T.A.,

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Moscow, Russia, ataleks@mail.ru

elibrary_id: 1361 |

Loshkariov I.D.,

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Moscow, Russia, kixlo@rambler.ru

elibrary_id: 639886 |

Parenkov D.A.,

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Moscow, Russia, dparenkov@gmail.com

elibrary_id: 701908 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.05.06

For citation:

Alekseyeva T.A., Loshkariov I.D., Parenkov D.A. Dilemmas of the Modern Theory of Political Elites: What’s Next? – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 5. P. 78-93. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2021.05.06

The research was undertaken within the framework of the research project of MGIMO-University’s Institute of international studies №1921-01-03 “Elite interactions in the modern world: the possibilities of influencing external and internal political processes in the context of the crisis of big ideologies, populist waves and the growing role of security issues”.


The article fixes the most important problems and elements of inconsistency in the modern theory of political elites; these need to be independently addressed, as well as requiring some corrections and revisions in the very elite studies. The authors record the state of research of the elites and the main problems in the current scientific periodicals, and highlight three anomalies in the theoretical knowledge of the elites. The first serious anomaly is associated with the use of binary logic in the analysis of complex socio-political processes that accompany political decision-making. The dichotomy of “elite / non-elite” corresponds to the level and conceptual grid of the mechanistic scientific picture of the world, which becomes a problem in the analysis of modern inter-elite and intra-country political interactions. The second anomaly consists in a significant overestimation of the role and content of the consensus the elites have on the main contours of political organization in states. Such forms of communication within the political elite undoubtedly exist, but the very configuration of the elite can contribute to the formation of relatively fragile and short-lived forms of consensus. Moreover, within the general structure of inter-elite interactions, this consensus does not appear so often, in contrast to other practices formed by political institutions, identity, and so on. Finally, the third anomaly is associated with the widespread thesis about the presence of certain ideological and cognitive differences between the elite and the rest of the population, to a degree that these differences are due to the peculiarities of upbringing, professional development, and external factors in the development of the elite. The authors conclude that modern studies in this direction do not find evidence of the presence of such ideological and cognitive differences, but also find empirical data that contradicts the thesis. In conclusion, the authors argue the need to overcome these anomalies through a theoretical synthesis between studies of elites and studies of political decision making and the political process. 

political elites, elite–non-elite dichotomy, elite consensus, theory of political elites.


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Content No. 5, 2021

See also:

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Rutland P.,
Russia’s Post-Soviet Elite. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No3

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Kochetkov A.P.,
Authority and elites in a global information society. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No5



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