Contemporary articles citing Mills C (1956) Power Elite

public, democratic, contemporary, point, late, framework, society, debate, state, empirical

Manza, Jeff & Clem Brooks. 2012. "How Sociology Lost Public Opinion: a Genealogy of a Missing Concept in the Study of the Political." Sociological Theory. 30:2 89-113. Link
In contemporary sociology the once prominent study of public opinion has virtually disappeared. None of the leading theoretical models in the closest disciplinary subfield (political sociology) currently provide ample or sufficiently clear space for consideration of public opinion as a possible factor in shaping or interacting with key policy or political outcomes in democratic polities. In this article, we unearth and document the sources of this curious development and raise questions about its implications for how political sociologists have come to understand policy making, state formation, and political conflict. We begin by reconstructing the dismissal of public opinion in the intellectual reorientation of political sociology from the late 1970s onward. We argue that the most influential scholarly works of this period (including those of Tilly, Skocpol, Mann, Esping-Andersen, and Domhoff) face an underlying paradox: While often rejecting public opinion, their theoretical logics ultimately presuppose its operation. These now classical writings did not move toward research programs seeking engagement with the operation and formation of public opinion, even though our immanent critique suggests they in fact require precisely this turn. We address the challenge of reconceptualizing how public opinion might be productively integrated into the sociological study of politics by demonstrating that the major arguments in the subfield can be fruitfully extended by grappling with public opinion. We conclude by considering several recent, interdisciplinary examples of scholarship that, we argue, point the way toward a fruitful revitalization.

Goldberg, Chad. 2008. "Introduction to Emile Durkheim's ``anti-semitism and Social Crisis''." Sociological Theory. 26:4 299-323.
Emile Durkheim's ``Antisemitisme et crise sociale,'' written in 1899 during the Dreyfus Affair in France, is introduced. The introduction summarizes the principal contributions that ``Antisemitisme et crise sociale'' makes to the sociology of anti-Semitism, relates those contributions to Durkheim's broader theoretical assumptions and concerns, situates his analysis of anti-Semitism in its social and historical context, contrasts it to other analyses of anti-Semitism (Marxist and Zionist) that were prominent in Durkheim's time, indicates some of the revisions and additions that a fuller and more complete Durkheimian theory of anti-Semitism would entail, and highlights the significance of Durkheim's ideas for the contemporary study of ethnic and racial antagonism. While noting the limitations of Durkheim's analysis, the introduction concludes that ``Antisemitisme et crise sociale'' has sadly regained its relevance in the light of a revival of anti-Semitism at the turn of the millennium.

Kurzman, Charles, Chelise Anderson, Clinton Key, Youn Lee, Mairead Moloney, Alexis Silver & Maria Van. 2007. "Celebrity Status." Sociological Theory. 25:4 347-367. Link
Max Weber's fragmentary writings on social status suggest that differentiation on this basis should disappear as capitalism develops. However, many of Weber's examples of status refer to the United States, which Weber held to be the epitome of capitalist development. Weber hints at a second form of status, one generated by capitalism, which might reconcile this contradiction, and later theorists emphasize the continuing importance of status hierarchies. This article argues that such theories have missed one of the most important forms of contemporary status: celebrity. Celebrity is an omnipresent feature of contemporary society, blazing lasting impressions in the memories of all who cross its path. In keeping with Weber's conception of status, celebrity has come to dominate status ``honor,'' generate enormous economic benefits, and lay claim to certain legal privileges. Compared with other types of status, however, celebrity is status on speed. It confers honor in days, not generations; it decays over time, rather than accumulating; and it demands a constant supply of new recruits, rather than erecting barriers to entry.

Leach, DK. 2005. "The Iron Law of What Again? Conceptualizing Oligarchy Across Organizational Forms." Sociological Theory. 23:3 312-337. Link
The debate around Michels's ``iron law of oligarchy'' over the question of whether organizations inevitably become oligarchic reaches back almost a century, but the concept of oligarchy has frequently been left underspecfied, and the measures that have been employed are especially inadequate for analyzing nonbureaucratically structured organizations. A conceptual model is needed that delineates what does and does not constitute oligarchy and can be applied in both bureaucratic and nonbureaucratic settings. Definitions found in the research are inadequate for two reasons. First, treating oligarchy solely as a feature of organizational structure neglects the possibility that a powerful elite may operate outside of the formal structure. A democratic structure is a necessary precondition, but it does not guarantee the absence of oligarchy. Second, studies that equate oligarchy with goal displacement and bureaucratic conservatism cannot account for organizations with radical goals that are nonetheless dominated by a ruling elite. This article presents a model that distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate forms of formal and informal power to define oligarchy as a concentration of illegitimate power in the hands of an entrenched minority. The model is intended for use in organizations that are nominally democratic to determine whether a formal or informal leadership has in fact acquired oligarchic control. By providing a common framework for tracking fluctuations in the distribution and legitimacy of both formal and informal power, it is hoped that this model will facilitate a more productive bout of research on the conditions under which various forms of democratically structured organizations may be able to resist oligarchization.

Whipple, M. 2005. "The Dewey-lippmann Debate Today: Communication Distortions, Reflective Agency, and Participatory Democracy." Sociological Theory. 23:2 156-178. Link
In this article, I introduce the Dewey-Lippmann democracy debate of the 1920s as a vehicle for considering how social theory can enhance the empirical viability of participatory democratic theory within the current context of advanced capitalism. I situate within this broad theoretical framework the theories of Habermas and Dewey. In the process, I argue (a) that while Dewey largely failed to reconcile his democratic ideal with the empirical constraint of large-scale organizations, Habermas, in particular his work on the public sphere, provides an important starting point for considering the state of public participation within the communication distortions of advanced capitalism; (b) that to fully understand the relation between communication distortions and public participation, social theorists must look beyond Habermas and return to Dewey to mobilize his bi-level view of habitual and reflective human agency; and, finally, (c) that the perspective of a Deweyan political theory of reflective agency best furthers our understanding of potential communication distortions and public participation, particularly in the empirical spaces of media centralization and intellectual property rights.

Sjoberg, G, EA Gill & LD Cain. 2003. "Countersystem Analysis and the Construction of Alternative Futures." Sociological Theory. 21:3 210-235. Link
This essay explicates the role of countersystem analysis as an essential mode of social inquiry. In the process, particular attention is given to the place of negation and the future. One underlying theme is the asymmetry between the negative and the positive features of social activities, the negative being more readily identifiable empirically than the positive. A corollary theme, building on the observations of George Herbert Mead, is: one engages the present through experience; one engages the future through ideas. Furthermore, as Anthony Giddens, Ulrich Beck, and Niklas Luhmann suggest, we in late modernity seem to be facing a future that is more contingent than it was in early modernity. After articulating the foundations of the mode of inquiry we term ``countersystem analysis,'' we employ Karl Mannheim as a point of departure for critically surveying a constellation of scholars-conservatives as well as reformers-who have relied upon some version of countersystem analysis in addressing the future. Such an orientation serves to advance not only theoretical inquiry but empirical investigation as well.

Pakulski, J & M Waters. 1996. "The Reshaping and Dissolution of Social Class in Advanced Society." Theory and Society. 25:5 667-691.

Liu, TL. 1998. "Policy Shifts and State Agencies: Britain and Germany, 1918-1933." Theory and Society. 27:1 43-82. Link

Emirbayer, M & M Sheller. 1998. "Publics in History." Theory and Society. 27:6 727-779. Link

Levy, Y. 1998. "Militarizing Inequality: a Conceptual Framework." Theory and Society. 27:6 873-904. Link

Ferree, MM, WA Gamson, J Gerhards & D Rucht. 2002. "Four Models of the Public Sphere in Modern Democracies." Theory and Society. 31:3 289-324. Link

Mizruchi, MS. 2004. "Berle and Means Revisited: the Governance and Power of Large Us Corporations." Theory and Society. 33:5 579-617. Link
In The Modern Corporation and Private Property ( 1932), Berle and Means warned of the concentration of economic power brought on by the rise of the large corporation and the emergence of a powerful class of professional managers, insulated from the pressure not only of stockholders, but of the larger public as well. In the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, Berle and Means warned that the ascendance of management control and unchecked corporate power had potentially serious consequences for the democratic character of the United States. Social scientists who drew on Berle and Means in subsequent decades presented a far more benign interpretation of the rise of managerialism, however. For them, the separation of ownership from control actually led to an increased level of democratization in the society as a whole. Beginning in the late 1960s, sociologists and other social scientists rekindled the debate over ownership and control, culminating in a series of rigorous empirical studies on the nature of corporate power in American society. In recent years, however, sociologists have largely abandoned the topic, ceding it to finance economists, legal scholars, and corporate strategy researchers. In this article, I provide a brief history of the sociological and finance/legal/strategy debates over corporate ownership and control. I discuss some of the similarities between the two streams of thought, and I discuss the reasons that the issue was of such significance sociologically. I then argue that by neglecting this topic in recent years, sociologists have failed to contribute to an understanding of some of the key issues in contemporary business behavior. I provide brief reviews of four loosely developed current perspectives and then present an argument of my own about the changing nature of the U. S. corporate elite over the past three decades. I conclude with a call for sociologists to refocus their attention on an issue that, however fruitfully handled by scholars in other fields, cries out for sociological analysis.