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Converging Representative Elites in Europe? An Introduction to the EurElite Project
Heinrich Best and Michael Edinger

This article provides an overview of the aims, the research design and the activities of the EurElite project, a project devoted to the comparative study of representative elites across Europe. Through investigating long-term trends in the composition of parliaments and member recruitment, the scholars involved in the EurElite activities attempt to identify the degree and patterns of convergence among national deputies on the continent. With the inclusion of democratically elected legislators from about a dozen post-communist countries, a new dimension has been added to the question of convergence: elite integration across Europe, i.e. between the elites in the new democracies and those in Western Europe. The scope of the research also encompasses the study of the European Parliament as the site of the possible emergence of a supra-national elite in Europe. The article also provides information on the structure and variables of the (key) data set and its regional/temporal coverage.

Sociologický časopis/Czech Sociological Review, 2005, Vol. 41, No. 3: 499–510

eurelite project  (download)  Access at: observatory-elites.org



Elite Communications and Racial Group Conflict in the 21st Century

Vincent Hutchings, Center for Political Studies (PI); Hanes Walton, Center for Political Studies (Co-PI); Robert Mickey, Center for Political Studies (Co-PI);

In the past few decades, the racial and ethnic composition of the United States has undergone dramatic changes. This project studies the ways that co-ethnic political elites and interest group leaders can shape the attitudes that African Americans, Latinos, and Whites have about one another. The data were collected through two survey experiments embedded in a nationally representative Internet survey. The study tests, and in some cases modifies, several theories concerning racial attitudes and identity politics in the fields of political science, sociology, social psychology, and communication studies.

Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan


American National Science Foundation (NSF)

Project Period
September 1, 2009 – August 31, 2011



The Italian Elites project 

The Italian Elites project at the University of Warwick was initiated over fifteen years ago. The project’s direction was influenced by the work of Professor Michael Mallett and Dr Humfrey Butters as editors of volumes of the Lettere of Lorenzo de’ Medici. In 1991 Dr Christine Shaw joined the project as a senior research fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, working on political exiles in Quattrocento Italy, she was able to develop research into the political elites of Siena and Genoa to complement the existing expertise on Florence and Venice within the Department of History. Her book, Popular Government and Oligarchy in Renaissance Italy, as with The Politics of Exile, uses Siena as a model with which to compare and contrast developments in other Italian states. This reflects what have become major emphases of the Elites project: on comparisons between states, and on placing stress on the networks of elites crossing the boundaries of different states. Another emphasis has been on how the various elites – political, social, ecclesiastical, professional and cultural – overlapped and interacted. This breadth of interest has been apparent in the symposia which continued to be held once or twice each year, on subjects ranging from universities and the medical profession, to exiles, ambassadors and political councils. There was an increasing emphasis on cultural elites in following years, and there were further symposia on art history. The focus of the project was extended from the second half of the fifteenth century to encompass the first three decades of the sixteenth century. This extension was foreshadowed by a conference on The World of Savonarola: Italian Elites in Crisis 1494-1519, which was held at Warwick in 1998. Most of the papers given to this conference are published in The World of Savonarola: Italian Elites and Perceptions of Crisis, edited by Stella Fletcher and Christine Shaw (Ashgate, 2000). To complement the vertical case studies of changes in specific elites over time, there was also a collaborative horizontal case study, based on the extensive research material produced for the edition of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Lettere. This provides an online biographical dictionary of the Lettere of Lorenzo de’ Medici from 1480 to 1486. In 2003 an international conference was held at Warwick. The papers from this conference have been published in Italy and the European Powers: The Impact of War, 1500-1530, edited by Christine Shaw (Brill, 2006).

Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick


Contact: Dr Penny Roberts (Director)



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