As a consequence, the theory has modified the popular notion of democracy. Maurice Duverger advises that the formula ‘government of the people, by the people’ must be replaced by another formula government of the people by an elite sprung from the people, [“Maurice Duverger, its political parties”] obviously, elite theory stands on the classical doctrine of the natural inequality of mankind.

This ‘chosen elements constitute a minor part of society and it enjoys special position. Almost the same line of thinking is there in Lass well’s “The Comparative Study of Elites” He says that the exists elites, mid elites and rank and file.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now


W. Pareto in his work ‘The Mind and Society’ begins his analysis by observing “history is graveyard of Aristocracies.” Pareto believed that every society is ruled by minority that possesses the qualities necessary for its accession to social and political power. The elites consist of those successful persons who rise to the top in every occupation and stratum of society. Society, to Pareto, consists of two classes: 1. A lower stratum, the non-elite.

2. A higher stratum, the elite i.e. (i) A governing elite and (ii) A non-governing elite Pareto’s theory of Elite is also a theory of circulation of elites.

He holds that there is continuous movement of individuals and elites from higher to lower levels and from lower to higher levels. It results primarily on account of psychological changes in the elites. He outlines a list of qualities called residues by which elites can remain in power.

1. Combination: tendency to invent and embark on adventures; 2. Persistence of Preservation: tendency to consolidate and make secure; 3. Expressiveness: tendency to make feelings manifest through symbolisation; 4. Sociability: tendency to connect affiliate other; 5. Integrity: tendency to maintain a good self image; 6. Sex: tendency to see social events in erotic sexual terms. Pareto makes use of the first two residues and on that basis lays down his doctrine of ‘innovation’ and ‘consolidation’ and ‘persistence of aggregates.

’ An imbalance between the elements of ‘innovation’ and ‘consolidation’ causes replacement of one elite by another. One ascends, another declines and there goes on the continuous replacement or circulation of the elites.


Gaetano Mosca in his work “The Ruling Class” presents the first systematic distinction between elite and masses. To him all societies are characterised by two classes-a class that rules and a class that is ruled. The elites monopolize power and enjoy the privileges that accompany power. Whereas, the second that is the class which is ruled is “more numerous, directed and controlled by the first in a manner that is now more or less legal, now more or less arbitrary and violent.

” Mosca explains this phenomena by virtue of elites an ‘organised’ segment. However Mosca emphasizes that one class counts on the cooperation of another. While the ruling class needs the support of the ruled class, the latter provides protection to the former.


Robert Michels in his work on political parties propounds what is*called ‘Iron law of oligarchy.

’ In his opinion issue of leadership is inevitable in any organisation. To ensure the success and survival of any organisation that the leadership attains power and advantages under such circumstances, they cannot be checked or held accountable by their followers. He words that “leadership are bourgeoisiefied, who are quite strangers to their class and party hierarchy becomes an established career offering a rise in social statues as well as income.”



Wright Mills in his work ‘Power Elite’ propounds an elite theory to explain the nature of American political system. He combines the elements of traditional elitist theory with the Marxist theory of ruling class. According to Mills, the rule of power elite is a special characteristic of a developed society only such as the United States after the Second World War.

Moreover the power elite are a composite but cohesive elite in which the political, economic and military elites are interpenetrated to such an extent that they now form a single entity. They are recruited from higher circles of American society. A group of intellectuals serve as their consultants, spokesman and opinion makers. He points out that within American Society major national power now resides in the economic military and political spheres. Within each of the three spheres, the typical institutional unit has become enlarged, more centralized in decision making, administratively more powerful and consumer of highly developed technology.

The economists observe “there is an ever increasing interlocking of economic, military and the political structures. If there is government intervention in the corporate economy so is there corporate intervention in the government process. As each of these domains has coincided with the others, as decisions tend to the three domains of power-the warlords, the corporation chieftains, and the political directorate and to come together, to form the power elite of America Mill locates a situation of political vacuum in American Society. There has been a decline in the role of professional politician and as such, the corporate and military elites have gained ascendance. But, neither of them dominates the affair.

As he says, “It is coalition of generals in the role of corporation executives acting like politicians who become Majors, or Vice admirals who are also assistants to a cabinet officer, who is himself, by the way really a member of the managerial elite. The power today involves the often uneasy coincidence of economic, military and political power.” Elite theory has contributed enormously in evolving the domain of empirical political science. Perhaps the contribution of elite theories is best summed up in the words of L.N. Sharma, “…successfully seek to explain social and political change.

They are fertile and suggestive enough for the construction of new theories. They are of particular relevance for the understanding of the politics of developing countries where economic, political and other changes are bringing changes in social structures, that is, changes in the prestige and power of different social groups and consequently rise and fall of elites. We can examine the social forces which are creating new elites as well as the activities of the elite themselves in the modernization process of the developing countries.”