A Mini-conference on Elites Studying Up in the 21st Century: Issues & Methods

A Mini-conference on Elites

Studying Up in the 21st Century: Issues & Methods

2017 ESS Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, February 23-26

We live in a world of increasing inequality, in which political, economic, and social elites in the richer parts of the world command more wealth and power that at any other time in the post-World War II era. As elites come to dominate society in new ways, with new means of control, it is imperative that social scientists reconsider old methodologies and categories of distinction. In this mini-conference, we seek a variety of papers that challenge us to rethink how we study elites. The mini-conference will feature three panels (12 papers total), including, but not limited to, the following sets of questions and themes:


·         How do classes reproduce themselves in an age of rapid technological transformation?

·         Have recent changes at the global level improved the well-being of those in poorer countries?

·         Who are the elites outside the rich world?

·         What role do education and notions of meritocracy play in the making of new elites?

·         What causes inequality today and how can it be addressed?

·         What are the political orientations of new elites?


·         How are racial differences conceptualized, in light of the disparity between white and non-white or light-skinned and dark-skinned individuals among political, economic, and social elites?

·         How do elites mobilize racial categories, as a way to sustain existing boundaries?

·         Does race carry different relevance or meaning for elites in developing and developed worlds?

·         How do legacies of colonialism inform an understanding of race in affected countries or regions?


·         How do elites “do” gender, as compared to others in working or middle class milieus?

·         What are the many layers of gender privilege that appear among elites?

·         How is gender mobilized to secure resources and minimize competition?

·         What are the different and competing feminisms on display among elites?

·         How do women acquire and use power to distinguish themselves?

·         What solidarity do elites perceive between themselves and others of shared genders of non-elites?

Research methods:

·         How do researchers overcome challenges of access, and what challenges remain if they gain it?

·         How do researchers navigate the material and cultural differences between them and informants?

·         How do researchers work within competing social networks that invariably form among elites?

·         How does proficiency in different languages impede understanding, and even access?

·         How do researchers overcome challenges like insider tales and jokes?

We welcome papers that address these themes, specifically, in addition to papers that take up other important topics that challenge us to think deeply about elites in the modern era. Please direct all inquiries to either Hugo Ceron Anaya (hrc209@lehigh.edu) or Patrick Inglis (inglispa@grinnell.edu). Authors must submit their proposals through the ESS online abstract submission system.  The deadline is October 15, 2016.  In the “Submission Details” window, select “Paper” for “Type of Submission,” and select “miniconference: elites” for “Select the topic area that best describes your submission.” Be sure to include a paper title along with your abstract of 250 words or less, your name as it should appear in the ESS program, institutional affiliation, and contact information.

Categories: Higher Education


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