Political Elites - 2nd semester


The course aims to give students a wide understanding of the main theoretical and methodological developments in the study of political elites, as well as of the major findings of recent empirical research.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Pedro Tavares de Almeida


Weekly - 3 letivas + 1 tutorial

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





1) Almeida, P. Tavares de, A. Costa Pinto & N. Bermeo, dir. (2012), QUEM GOVERNA A EUROPA DO SUL, 2ª ed., Lisboa, Imprensa de Ciências Sociais. [English version: WHO GOVERNS SOUTHERN EUROPE?, 2nd ed., London & New York, Routledge, 2012].
2) Conti, N., M. Cotta & P. Tavares de Almeida (2012), eds., PERSPECTIVES OF NATIONAL ELITES ON EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP, London & New York, Routledge.
3) Cotta, Maurizio & Heinrich BEST, eds. (2007), DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION IN EUROPE, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
4) Higley, John (2010), ELITES E DEMOCRACIA, Lisboa, Livros Horizonte, Colecção ‘Estudos Políticos’.
5) Putnam, Robert (1976), THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF POLITICAL ELITES, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall Inc.

Teaching method

Lectures given by the academic responsible, and debates on specific topics based on the presentation of assigned readings by the students.

Evaluation method

Students will be evaluated on the basis of a written essay (c. 12 pages), either a critical review of the bibliography or an original research based on primary sources, to be presented and discussed in the final classes. Active participation in the classes is taken into account for the final marks.

Subject matter

The analysis of the importance of elite action – both in institution-building, the formation of coalitions, the elaboration of symbols, and the making of vital decisions -, is followed by the critical evaluation of the basic theoretical premisses in elite studies, and the specification of the main conceptual tools and methods used in empirical research. With this background, students are more able to understand the basic foundations and scope of contemporary elite research, namely those focusing on the changing profile and patterns of selection of political elites, as well as on their values and attitudes.

Main issues: The role of political elites in modern societies. Elite theory: the elitist and pluralist approaches. Social change and elite transformation. The empirical study of elites: issues, methods of research and major findings. Recruitment patterns and attitudes of the European political elites: a comparative approach.


Programs where the course is taught: