Networks of Elite Structure and Decision Making

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Recent research on community power structures and national political elites increasingly incorporates social network concepts, principles, and methodologies. Analysts using this perspective seek to uncover the various mechanisms underlying the cleavages and coalitions among state managers, political parties, corporations, interest groups, social movements, mass publics, class segments, and other social formations. By combining reputational, positional, and decision-making measures, researchers delineate the networks of communication ties and resource exchanges, which shape collective actions that attempt to influence the outcomes of political controversies. This article critically reviews recent power structure research that applies network techniques to the analysis of elite structures and decision making. Specifically, the following topics are examined: the specification of political network content, the delineation of political elite system boundaries, the identification of key or core actors, the representation of network structures, elite actors’ individual and collective participation in policy events, the determination of policy event outcomes, and future directions for elite research using network perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-45
Number of pages23
JournalSociological Methods & Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1993

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