This compelling and convincing study, the capstone of decades of research, argues that political regimes are created and sustained by elites. Liberal democracies are no exception; they depend, above all, on the formation and persistence of consensually united elites. John Higley and Michael Burton explore the circumstances and ways in which such elites have formed in the modern world. They identify pressures that may cause a basic change in the structure and functioning of elites in established liberal democracies, and they ask if the elites cluster around George W. Bush are a harbinger of this change. 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.
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.
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