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In: Elites: New Comparative Perspectives
In: Democratic Elitism
Author: Heinrich Best

Abstract

Long term changes in the recruitment patterns of European representative elites can be described as the aggregate result of selectorates' responses to a sequence of fundamental problems challenging polities since the emergence of modern representative political institutions in the 19th century. Recent data show that some long-term trends of (Western) European parliamentary recruitment like the increase of MPs with a public sector background have reversed or plateaued since the late 1980s. At the same time a rise in turnover, a decrease of incumbency and a growing diversity of recruitment patterns can be seen in the same group of polities. This paper explores whether and to what extent these changes are linked to changes in the party systems of Western European polities and whether new trends of parliamentary recruitment are emerging. It introduces the proposition that after the 'consensus challenge' of the post Second World War era a 'legitimacy challenge' is now shaping European legislative recruitment, increasing the value of social and cultural assets of candidates that are related to their expert-status and favouring properties signalling their moral integrity.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Heinrich Best

Abstract

This article explores the failures and achievements of democratic elitism in Germany. I first outline the conditions in which concepts of leader democracy and democratic elitism were set forth by Max Weber and Joseph Schumpeter during the first half of the twentieth century. I then argue that democratic elitism can usefully be reformulated in terms of principal-agent theory and William Sumner's theory of antagonistic cooperation. I present empirical findings from a study of elite conflict and consensus in re-unified Germany that are consistent with these theories, and I suggest that democratic elitism should incorporate both.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Heinrich Best

Abstract

This article inquires into the impact of personality factors on the selection and self-selection of parliamentary elites. I compare personality profiles of German MPs and the German population obtained through survey research, and for some comparisons I utilize elite and mass samples matched for education, gender, and age. I ask further if MPs’ personalities have an impact on their preferences for expansionist or restricted government budgets and welfare state benefits, the extension or limitation of civic rights, and several other policies. Party affiliations of MPs are used as a control variable. I find that MPs’ personality traits differ strikingly from those of the German population and from those of followers in most of the parties with which MPs are affiliated.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Democratic Elitism
Authors: John Higley and Heinrich Best

Abstract

During the postwar decades following Joseph Schumpeter's seminal Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, democratic elitism struck many as an apt and insightful description of how representative democracy works – even though convinced democrats detected an "elitist" thrust they found disturbing. But during the last several decades political elites and leaders have wielded more power and influence in Western democracies than Schumpeter and his early adherents acknowledged. If it is to retain relevance and utility, democratic elitism must incorporate the now more evident roles elites and leaders play.

In: Comparative Sociology