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Palgrave Macmillan

Political Elites in the Transatlantic Crisis

ISBN 9781137345745
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The United States and most European countries have experienced an economic-political crisis unmatched in severity since the Great Depression. The crisis discredits the thesis of a nexus between free markets, unending economic growth and liberal democracy. It is obvious that elites – principal decision-makers in powerful public and private organizations at national and supranational levels – have been pivotal actors in this crisis. It has without doubt been the hour of elites. What do elites' responses to the crisis reveal? How are elites altered by it? In whose interests have they acted? Although the authority of elites is always subject to dispute, has the crisis damaged it irreparably? What do decisive actions by non-elected elites and leaders in the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, European Commission and other institutions mean for democracy? In analyses covering five years of crisis, from 2008 to mid-2013, leading scholars in the field address these questions in order to understand the role of elites in the transatlantic crisis.

Heinrich Best is Professor of Sociology at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and Chair of the IPSA Research Committee on Political Elites.
John Higley is Professor Emeritus of Government at The University of Texas at Austin, USA, and chaired the Research Committee on Political Elites between 2002-2012.

1. Introduction: The Transatlantic Crisis; Heinrich Best and John Higley
2. Structure and Agency: Lessons from Pareto on the Study of Elites, Democracy and Crisis; Joseph V. Femia
3. Is 'Europe' the Lesser Evil? Limits of Elite Crisis Resolution in a Limitless Crisis; Heinrich Best
4. Facing the Crisis: The European Elite System's Changing; Geometry; Maurizio Cotta
5. Central European Elites in the Crisis; Pavol Frič, György Lengyel, Jan Pakulski and Soña Szomolanyi
6. British Elite De-Coupling from Classes Amid Crisis and Globalization; David Lane
7. Why Can't US Business Elites be Moderate Keynesians? The Issue is Power, not Economics; G. William Domhoff
8. Elite Compromise, Crisis and Democracy: The US, Norway and Italy Compared; Fredrik Engelstad
9. When Political and Financial Elites Clash: Narratives of Blame, Power and Legitimacy; Alasdair Marshall
10. The Hour of Elites: Conclusions; Heinrich Best and John Higley

Maurizio Cotta, University of Siena, Italy
G. William Domhoff, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Fredrik Engelstad, University of Oslo, Norway
Joseph V. Femia, University of Liverpool, UK
Pavol Frič Charles University, Czech Republic
David Lane, University of Cambridge
György Lengyel, Corvinus University, Hungary
Alasdair Marshall, University of Southampton, UK
Jan Pakulski the University of Tasmania, Australia
Soňa Szomolányi Comenius University, Slovakia


'A masterful portrait of how non-elected (and elected) elites have been pivotal actors in the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, bringing together a group of excellent analyses by leading scholars of the field.'
Antonio Costa Pinto, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
"While economists rushed to publish their explanations for the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, little has been written about its impact on political systems. This collection of essays by a distinguished panel of authors shows how elites struggled to shore up the existing system of Euro-Atlantic institutions. Globalization has its limits, and national political elites still have a role to play, but it is unclear whether they are capable of acting together to prevent future systemic crises.'
- Peter Rutland, Government Department, Wesleyan University, USA
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