SAGE Journal Articles

Journal Article 13.1 Williams, C. (2012). Got power? Contexts, 11(2), 80–80. doi:10.1177/1536504212446471
Abstract: Sociologist Christine Williams reflects on how she, as a feminist professor, advises her students to get power.
Learning Objective: 13.2: Discuss the importance of power and privilege in societies.
Summary: A feminist sociologist uses her understanding of power to advise students in their future careers.

Journal Article 13.2 Davies, W. (2017). Elite power under advanced neoliberalism. Theory, Culture & Society, 34(5–6), 227–250. doi:10.1177/0263276417715072
Abstract: The financial crisis, and associated scandals, created a sense of a juridical deficit with regard to the financial sector. Forms of independent judgement within the sector appeared compromised, while judgement over the sector seemed unattainable. Elites, in the classical Millsian sense of those taking tacitly coordinated “big decisions” over the rest of the public, seemed absent. This article argues that the eradication of jurisdictional elites is an effect of neoliberalism, as articulated most coherently by Hayek. It characterizes the neoliberal project as an effort to elevate “unconscious” processes over “conscious” ones, which in practice means elevating cybernetic, non-human systems and processes over discursive spheres of politics and judgement. Yet such a system still produces its own types of elite power, which come to consist in acts of translation, rather than judgement. Firstly, there are “cyborg intermediaries”: elites which operate largely within the system of codes, data, screens and prices. Secondly, there are “diplomatic intermediaries”: elites who come to narrate and justify what markets (and associated technologies and bodies) are “saying.” The paper draws on Lazzarato’s work on signifying vs asignifying semiotics in order to articulate this, and concludes by considering the types of elite crisis which these forms of power tend to produce.
Learning Objective: 13.3: Compare the key points of the pluralist and elite theories of power.
Summary: The author takes a novel approach to the notion of elites within the neoliberal system. In addition, human components, there are non-human elite systems that operate to bolster the power of those with the most privilege.

Journal Article 13.3 Wedel, J. R. (2017). From power elites to influence elites: Resetting elite studies for the 21st century, Theory, Culture, & Society, 34(5–6), 153–178. doi:10.1177/0263276417715311
Abstract: The dominant theory of elite power, grounded in Weberian bureaucracy, has analyzed elites in terms of stable positions at the top of enduring institutions. Today, many conditions that spawned these stable “command posts” no longer prevail, and elite power thus warrants rethinking. This article advances an argument about contemporary “influence elites.” The way they are organized and the modus operandi they employ to wield influence enable them to evade public accountability, a hallmark of a democratic society. Three cases are presented, first to investigate changes in how elites operate and, second, to examine varying configurations in which the new elites are organized. The cases demonstrate that influence elites intermesh hierarchies and networks, serve as connectors, and coordinate influence from multiple, moving perches, inside and outside official structures. Their flexible and multi-positioned organizing modes call for reconsidering elite theory and grappling with the implications of these elites for democratic society.
Learning Objective: 13.3: Compare the key points of the pluralist and elite theories of power.
Summary: Conditions of the21st century have transformed elites, and how they influence society and social networks. Wedel invites us to take what we already know about elite theories of power and expand upon it to meet the changing demands of our times.