Elite Foundations Of Liberal Democracy / Edition 1

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Overview

This compelling and convincing study represents the culmination of the authors' several decades of research on the pivotal role played by elites in the success or failure of political regimes. Revising the classical theory of elites and politics, John Higley and Michael Burton distinguish basic types of elites and associated political regimes. They canvas political change during the modern historical and contemporary periods to identify circumstances and ways in which the sine qua non of liberal democracy, a consensually united elite, has formed and persisted.

The book considers an impressive body of cases, examining how consensually united elites have fostered forty-five liberal democracies and how disunited or ideologically united elites have thus far prevented liberal democracy in more than one hundred other countries. The authors argue that obstacles to the emergence of elites propitious for liberal democracy are more formidable than democratization enthusiasts recognize. They assess prospects for the transformation of disunited and ideologically united elites where they now exist, ask whether current challenges to Western liberal democracies will undermine their consensually united elites, and explore what the rise of the distinctive elite clustered around George W. Bush may portend for America's liberal democracy. The authors' powerful and important argument reframes our thinking about liberal democracy and questions optimistic assumptions about the prospects for its spread in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

European University At St. Petersburg
Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracymarks a major contribution to the literature on the role of elites in regime changes. John Higley and Michael Burton present a superb treatment, which combines broad historical and comparative overview and in-depth theoretical analysis. The book is required reading for anyone interested in studies of democracy and democratization.
— Vladimir Gelman
Choice
This culmination of decades of work by Higley and Burton on elite politics is a major contribution to modern social science. . . . One notable feature of the book is its realism: liberal democracy is not likely to spread easily, for elite agreement is very hard to achieve. A second notable feature is the empirical range: the conceptual apparatus covers, with real insight, an astonishing number of cases, making for superlative comparative political inquiry quite as much as major theoretical contribution. Highly recommended.
— John A. Hall, Dartmouth College
Contemporary Sociology
Higley and Burton . . . have written a stimulating, well argued, empirically grounded book . . . an historically based study that provides an excellent and comprehensive overview of the qualities within political elites that lead to the establishment of stable democratic rule.
Revue Francaise De Science Politique
To understand the primary features of…neo-elitism, one must read the important work by John Higley and Michael Burton.
Thomas A. Baylis
This important study represents the culmination of Higley and Burton’s work—the first book-length exposition of the mature version of their elite theory buttressed by the close examination of an astonishing number and variety of historical cases. Well argued, clearly written, and astute, this book is easily accessible for undergraduates, general readers, and all those interested in elites or democratic transitions.
European University At St. Petersburg - Vladimir Gel?man
Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracymarks a major contribution to the literature on the role of elites in regime changes. John Higley and Michael Burton present a superb treatment, which combines broad historical and comparative overview and in-depth theoretical analysis. The book is required reading for anyone interested in studies of democracy and democratization.
CHOICE - John A. Hall
This culmination of decades of work by Higley and Burton on elite politics is a major contribution to modern social science. . . . One notable feature of the book is its realism: liberal democracy is not likely to spread easily, for elite agreement is very hard to achieve. A second notable feature is the empirical range: the conceptual apparatus covers, with real insight, an astonishing number of cases, making for superlative comparative political inquiry quite as much as major theoretical contribution. Highly recommended.
Revue Française De Science Politique
To understand the primary features of…neo-elitism, one must read the important work by John Higley and Michael Burton.
Peter Rutland
Higley and Burton provide a comprehensive and rigorous framework through which scholars can make sense of the varieties of elite rule. Their hard-headed analysis of the forces that lie behind liberal democracy is all the more necessary given that U.S. foreign policy is now dedicated to the spread of such institutions around the world.
Vladimir Gelman
Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy marks a major contribution to the literature on the role of elites in regime changes. John Higley and Michael Burton present a superb treatment, which combines broad historical and comparative overview and in-depth theoretical analysis. The book is required reading for anyone interested in studies of democracy and democratization.
Revue française de science politique
To understand the primary features of . . . neo-elitism, one must read the important work by John Higley and Michael Burton.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742553613
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Series: Elite Transformations
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 0.54 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Higley is professor of government and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the Research Committee on Political Elites of the International Political Science Association. Michael Burton is professor of sociology at Loyola College in Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Elites and Regimes
Chapter 2: Disunited Elites and Unstable Regimes
Chapter 3: Elite Settlements
Chapter 4: Colonial Origins of Consensually United Elites
Chapter 5: Convergences among Disunited Elites
Chapter 6: Elites and Liberal Democratic Prospects

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