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Elite Theory

Elite theory developed in part as a reaction to Marxism. It rejected the Marxian idea that a classless society having an egalitarian structure could be realized after class struggle in every society.

It regards Marxism as an ideology rather than an objective analysis of social systems. According to Elite theory man can never be liberated from the subjugation of an elite structure. The term Elite refers to those who excel. The classical elite theorists identify the governing elite in terms of superior personal qualities of those who exercise power. However later versions of elite theory places less emphasis on the personal qualities of the powerful and more on the institutional framework of the society.

They argued that the hierarchical organization of social institutions allows a minority to monopolize power. Another criticism of the elite theories against the Marxian view of distribution of power is that the ruling class too large and amorphous a group to be able to effectively wield power. In their view power is always exercised by a small cohesive group of the elite. Elite theory argues that all societies are divided into two main groups a ruling minority and the ruled. This situation is inevitable. If the proletarian revolution occurs it will merely result in the replacement of one ruling elite by another. Classical elite theory was propounded by Pareto and Mosca.