Northwestern Events Calendar

Nov
21
2019

"Elite Theory and the Populist Threat to Stable Democracy" with Prof. John Higley (Texas-Austin)

When: Thursday, November 21, 2019
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM  

Where: Scott Hall, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Marcet Crockett   847.491.5364

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic

Description:

Abstract: Elite theories tend to be shunned. This is, at least in part, because they are distasteful. They pertain to what tiny groups of powerful and influential persons do or don’t do in the political world. Some elite theories hold that stable democracy depends, in largest measure, on elites trusting each other to keep distributive issues that rise to clear public consciousness from reaching acute degrees impelling power seizures.This appears undemocratic, and it is a main reason why elite theories are regarded with distaste. Yet if one looks at the matter closely, it will be clear that this is how stable democracies actually work. Populists assail the elite management of politics and thereby weaken democratic stability. Acting like pied pipers, they offer delusive enticements, make irresponsible promises, and exhibit disdain for rule of law. I will consider the elite basis of stable democracy and canvas populist assaults on it in heretofore stable Western democracies. 

John Higley is Professor Emeritus of Government and Sociology, University of Texas at Austin. His most recent books are The Endangered West. Myopic Elites and Fragile Social Orders in a Threatening World (Routledge 2016) and The Palgrave Handbook of Political Elites (co-edited with Heinrich Best) (Palgrave Macmillan 2018). 

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