The Paradox of Elites in Civil Society: A Comparative Study on Civil Society Leaders’ Satisfaction with Democracy in the UK and Sweden

Megan K. Baxter, Jayeon Lee, Minja Odai, Roberto Scaramuzzino

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review

Sammanfattning

The presence of an elite group in civil society elicits a discursive friction between the long-standing normative understanding of civil society, acting as a check on government overreach and autocratic tendencies, and elite theories. Robert Michels’s iron law of oligarchy posits that as individuals rise in the ranks to become organizational leaders, they begin to take on elite attributes, and their priorities align with those of other elites and away from those of their constituents. Michels’s argument echoes with today’s populist anti-elitist rhetoric and the way populism rejects any intermediary bodies between the people and the political leaders, including interest organizations in civil society. As an attempt to empirically probe this theoretical tension, this paper explores satisfaction with the way democracy is working among the top-level leaders of the most well resourced national-level civil society organizations in Sweden and in the UK, drawing on a survey study conducted in 2020–21.
Originalspråkengelska
TidskriftVoluntas
DOI
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2024 juni 11

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

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