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Essays on Elite Networks in Sweden: Power, social integration, and informal contacts among political elites
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to present work on a number of salient characteristics of elite relations in Sweden, studied from a social network analytic perspective. Elite integration, the distribution of elite power, and the significance of elites’ informal relations represent the three main themes explored in the original studies that comprise the thesis. Studies 1-3 concern elite relations at the local, i.e. municipal level of political decision-making, while research on parliamentary political elites is reported in Study 4. Studies 1-3 draw upon original complete network data collected through personal interviews with 248 local elites (politicians, corporate leaders, civil servants, etc.) active in four mid-sized Swedish municipalities. The question of local elite integration is investigated in Study 1, while the question of women elites’ potential access to structural power is studied in Study 2. These studies conclude that local elites are well integrated around structural cores of politicians and civil servants, and that women elites are on average not structurally disadvantaged due to their sex. Research concerning the role local elites’ involvement in associations like Rotary clubs is reported in Study 3. The results suggest that membership in such semi-exclusive voluntary settings may have an optimizing impact upon the elites’ personal networks, as far as their individual level social capital is concerned. In the final study (Study 4) focus is shifted to national political elites when a social network analytic perspective is utilized to study social cohesion within multiparty opposition coalitions recently formed in the Swedish Riksdag. The study concludes that the right wing-liberal Alliance coalition formed prior to the 2006 general elections was socially better integrated and more cohesive than the socialist-environmentalist coalition formed during the subsequent parliamentary cycle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2012. , 59 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 52
Keyword [en]
Sweden, elites, social networks, social capital
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75877ISBN: 978-91-86071-91-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-75877DiVA: diva2:524502
Public defence
2012-06-01, hörsal 3, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted.

Available from: 2012-05-10 Created: 2012-05-02 Last updated: 2015-06-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Integration of the Swedish Local Elite: The Role of Professional and Friendship Networks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Integration of the Swedish Local Elite: The Role of Professional and Friendship Networks
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

In the present paper we study local elite integration from a social network analytic perspective in Sweden, at the municipal level of political administration. The elites’ overall integration, the significance of informal personal relations for elite integration, and the role of political stability for elite integration are among the study’s main research questions. Empirically the study draws upon original data collected from positional samples of local elites (politicians, civil servants, business representatives, etc.) in four mid-sized Swedish municipalities. Overall the results indicate that local elites in Sweden are well integrated into one fairly unified social entity, structurally ordered around tightly connected social cores of high-ranking politicians and civil servants. We discuss the results and their significance in relation to elite integration’s importance as far as the functioning of democratic institutions is concerned, and also with reference to the common understanding of Sweden having a dual elite structure.

National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-76302 (URN)
Available from: 2012-05-10 Created: 2012-05-10 Last updated: 2012-05-11Bibliographically approved
2. Women in Power: Sex Differences in Swedish Local Elite Networks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Women in Power: Sex Differences in Swedish Local Elite Networks
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Women occupy a small minority of elite positions in contemporary society. In addition, the minority of women who gain access to influential elite-positions are often assumed to have their actual influence circumscribed by mechanisms of marginalization. However, systematic evidence to support the latter view is relatively scarce. We apply social network analysis to study sex differences in local elite networks in Sweden, and show empirically that despite the fact that women are the minority group across all elite dimensions; female elites uphold the same “structural status” as male elites.

National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-76303 (URN)
Available from: 2012-05-10 Created: 2012-05-10 Last updated: 2012-05-11Bibliographically approved
3. Service Club Membership and Forms of Social Capital among Swedish Community Elites
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Service Club Membership and Forms of Social Capital among Swedish Community Elites
2012 (English)In: Journal of Civil Society, ISSN 1744-8689, E-ISSN 1744-8697, Vol. 8, no 1, 63-90 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social clubs and other voluntary settings have repeatedly been pointed out as sites where social elites encounter each other and enjoy the opportunity to cultivate their within-elite personal relations under informal circumstances. Since elites’ personal connections represent a non-trivial aspect of their entrepreneurial opportunity structures, i.e. how they are able to get things done, it is essential to understand the significance of voluntary activities for elites’ personal networks. We lack, however, unequivocal knowledge about this. The aim of the present article is therefore to empirically explore how service club membership—one particularly prevalent form of voluntary activity among community elites—potentially affects such actors’ personal networks. The study is theoretically informed by a network-based conception of individual-level social capital, and distinguishes between brokerage and closure forms of social capital-producing mechanisms. Empirically, the study draws upon data collected through personal interviews with 248 local elites (politicians, corporate leaders, civil servants, etc.) in four mid-sized Swedish municipalities, and focuses particularly on the potential effect of Rotary Club membership among the elites. The results suggest that Rotary Club membership may have an optimizing impact on local elites’ personal networks, in terms of the relative prevalence of brokerage opportunities and tendencies towards social closure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2012
Keyword
Brokerage, closure, elites, Rotary, service clubs, social capital, social networks
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75876 (URN)10.1080/17448689.2012.665654 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-05-02 Created: 2012-05-02 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. The Social Cohesion of Pre-electoral Opposition Coalitions in the Swedish Parliament: A Network Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Social Cohesion of Pre-electoral Opposition Coalitions in the Swedish Parliament: A Network Perspective
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

One of the most essential function of the political opposition in stable democracies is to represent a credible alternative to the sitting government. The cohesion of the opposition parties’ pre-electoral coalitions is likely to play an important role in this regard. In this paper I compare the parliamentary-level social cohesion of two pre-electoral multiparty coalitions in Sweden: the four-party right wing-liberal Alliance for Sweden coalition, which successfully defeated the sitting Social Democratic government in the 2006 general elections, and the ultimately failed effort of the three-party Red-Green collaboration formed during the following parliamentary cycle. The study takes Robert Dahl’s notion of oppositional cohesion (1966) as a theoretical starting point and adopts a network analytic perspective in that social cohesion within these coalitions is investigated utilizing an analytic strategy adopted from the legislative networks literature. The results indicate that the opposition Alliance for Sweden was considerably more socially cohesive and well integrated across party boundaries than the later Red-Green coalition. These results are discussed in terms of the potential organizational benefits that socially well-integrated multiparty coalitions enjoy and in particular the electoral success of the Alliance for Sweden in 2006.

National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-76305 (URN)
Available from: 2012-05-10 Created: 2012-05-10 Last updated: 2012-05-11Bibliographically approved

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