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Additional info for The Sociology of Elites (Routledge Series in Social and Political Thought)
The loss of exclusivity which this implies prevents the development of a leading taste or principle of style, and the outcome is a constant hunger for ﬂeeting stimuli and a general lack of orientation (ibid). This effect is reinforced by the destruction of the intermediary structures that once served to mediate between elites and masses. In mass society a constant general public, made up of estate-like strata, is replaced by an “occasional” public that is far more subject to the laws of mass psychology and tends primarily to react to sensations.
It is only possible to analyze the rise and the functions of elites by paying due heed to “their relationship to the overall social structure” (Stammer 1965a: 85; 1965b: 171). Dahrendorf shares this basic premise. In his theoretical approach, which sees social conﬂict as the driving force behind social development,15 classes play even a greater role than they do in Stammer’s approach. However, this aspect bears little fruit in Dahrendorf’s work on elites, since he fails to work out any precise terminological deﬁnitions.
In the case of freedom and despotism, Functional elites 35 Keller writes, certain important risks, including the dangers posed by expertocracy, psychological habituation to power, and a growing distance between elites and the general population, should not be underestimated. These dangers are, however, substantially limited by the heterogeneity of strategic elites, since the various elites exercise a measure of control on one another, and limited power generally means less abuse of power. Furthermore, public discussion on elites and social problems, together with the population’s improving standard of education, also serve to limit these risks.
The Sociology of Elites (Routledge Series in Social and Political Thought) by Hartmann