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Utbildnings- och kultursociologi
Sociology of Education and Culture at Uppsala University

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Sociology of Power and Elites

Graudate course, 7,5 ETCS, at Sociology of Education,
Department of Education, Uppsala University, April 2014

Time: Intensive lectures and seminars 7–10 April, 2014 (full days).

Place: Campus Blåsenhus, Uppsala.

French guest teachers: François Denord (CNRS), Bertrand Réau (Université Paris 1) and Anne-Catherine Wagner (Université Paris 1).

Course director: Mikael Palme (Uppsala University),

Language: English

Course presentation

This course will present different approaches to power and elites in social sciences. If the word "can" refers to the ability to do something, to act upon the world, the classic Weberian definition of the term rather implies an ability to make someone else do something, to make others act for oneself (in terms of influence). This relational perspective has given rise to many works and is a central element of sociological analysis. But it raises the question of the location of power and the hierarchy of its forms. If we stick to this definition, we can find power in numerous social interactions. However, as Weber shows, this capacity varies socially and historically. Nevertheless, structurally speaking, social groups have more ability to make others act for oneself. Thus, understanding the reproduction of social order and social inequalities is based on social foundations of power, its implementation (the mechanisms of belief, the forms of legitimization) and the constitution of groups who practice it. We can distinguish two ways of understanding power serving as guideline. One, "from above", focuses mostly on the characteristics and modes of groups reproduction exercising power (and sometimes on how to exercise that power). The other, "from the bottom", focuses on how dominated groups put up with and / or resist it. This course will be devoted to three topics.

1. The study of the field of power from a theoritical and methodological point of view. The French example and, in comparison, the Norvegian and American ones, point out that the field of power is a battleground organized around a few but major dividing lines. Two dimensions are of a crucial importance : exercizing control over the means of production and having a form of seniority in the ruling class. The first point is directly related to the dominance of the economic field in a capitalist society. The second one will conduct us to emphasize on the inequal distribution of symbolic and social capital among the elites. In particular, we want to demonstrate that affiliations data (board memberships) can be used to analyze the network structure of the ruling elites. Combining SNA tools and Geometric Data Analysis, it is possible to forge a link between social capital and the other forms of capital possessed by the agents.

2. The effects of globalization on elites and power. The focus will be on the transformation of the ruling class and of the modes of domination due to globalization. The aim is to present empirical studies and theorical reflections on these themes, particularly in France, with a systematic comparative perspective.

3. The way in which power is put up through the presentation of empirical studies. Many analyses show the exercise of power as a social game with effective relations between those who exercise power and those who put up with it. Thus, it asks the question of "intermediates" exercising a power that is delegated by the elite, the relationship between different levels of the social level and the function of institutions. In this regard, the sociology of work, of colonialism and of migration offer interesting empirical approaches to study the way in which power is put up.

Course organization

The course will be organized in the form of lectures, seminars and workshops during four days (Monday through Thursday) at the Blåsenus, von Kraemers allé 1. During the workshops, course participants will be given the opportunity to relate their own thesis or research projects to the course content. For this purpose, admitted students will be required to, prior to the course start, hand in a 1 page description of their ongoing thesis work

Examination form

Exam paper where participants’ thesis projects are connected to the course content

Contact person

Dr Mikael Palme, lecturer in Sociology of Education,


Sociology of Power and Elites. Postgraduate course, April, 7th–10th, 2014
Uppsala Univetrsity, Campus Blåsenhus, von Kraemers allé 1, Uppsala, room 14:430

9.15 a.m.-12 a.m., room 14:340
Bertrand Réau
Institutional Power: Ethnicity, Race, Class and State:
1. Race, ethnicity and Class
2. Colonial States and Race
3. State, Autonomy and the Civilizing Process
4. Ethnicity, Nationalism and Culture
5. Post-colonialism States and tourism

13.15-17, room 14:340
Bertrand Réau, continued

9.15-12, room 14:340
François Denord
Social capital, symbolic capital and hierarchy Inside the Field of power
1. Beyond the sociology of elites
2. Constructing fields of power
3. Capital rules. The prominence of economic elites

13.15-17, room 14:340
François Denord, continued

9.15-12, room 14:340
Anne-Chatérine Wagner
1. The Concept of Globalization
2. Internationalization and social distinction
3. Is there a transnational capitalist class?
4. Transnational powers and transnational activists
5. The Internationalization of intellectual élites and the circulation of ideas

13.15-15, room 14 :340
Francois Denord & Bertrand Réau : “Power and Elites in the Sociology of C.W. Mills” (regular research seminar in Sociology of Education)

15.30-17, room 14:340
Anne-Chatérine Wagner, continued

9.15-10.30, room 14:340
Anne-Chatérine Wagner, continued

11-12.30, room 14:340
Francois Denord, Bertrand Réau, Anne-Chatérine Wagner: synthesis

Selected Bibliography

Beauvaller Willy, Michon Sébastien (2010), "Professionalization and socialization of the members of the European Parliament", French Politics 8, pp. 145–165

Boltanski Luc (1973), "L’Espace positionnel. Multiplicité des positions et habitus de classe", Revue française de sociologie, XIV, pp. 3-26

Bottomore, Thomas (1993), Elites in Society. Revised Edition. London: Routledge

Bourdieu Pierre (2005) "From the National to the International Field", in The Social Structures of the Economy (postscript), Cambridge, Polity Press, pp. 223-232

Burawoy, Michael (1982), Manufacturing Consent : Changes in the Labor process under monopoly capitalism, University of Chicago Press, 1982 (selected chapters)

Denord François, Lagneau-Ymonet Paul, Thine Sylvain (2011), "Le champ du pouvoir en France", Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 170, pp. 24-57

Domhoff. G. William (1967), Who Rules America? Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall (selected chapters)

Elias Norbert (1939), "On the Sociogenesis of the Concepts of 'Civilization' and 'Culture'" in The Civilizing Process, New York: Urizen Books, 1978-1982, pp. 3-52

Fourcade Marion (2006), “The construction of a global profession, the transnationalization of economics”, American Journal of Sociology, 112, 1, pp. 145-147 and pp. 158-179

Gerth, Hans, Mills, Charles. Wright (1964), Character and Social Structures, Mariner Books (selected chapters)

Gramsci, Antonio (1971), Selections from the Prison Notebooks. International Publishers.

Hartmann Mikael (2007), The Sociology of Elites, Routledge, 2007, pp. 61-88

Le Roux Brigitte, Rouanet Henry (2004), Geometric Data Analysis. From Correspondence Analysis to Structured Data Analysis, Dordrecht/Boston/Londres, Kluwer Academic Publishers

Lindquist, Johan A. (2009), Anxieties of mobility: migration and tourism in the Indonesian borderlands. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press (selected chapters)

Michael Burawoy (1974), "Race, Class and Colonialism", Social and Economic Studies, vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 521-551

Miliband, Ralph (1973), The State in Capitalist Society, Quartet Books (selected chapters)

Mills, Charles Wright (2000), The Power Elite. Oxford: Oxford University Press

MizruchiI Mark S. (1996), "What Do Interlocks Do? An Analysis, Critique, and Assessment of Research on Interlocking Directorates", Annual Review of Sociology, 22, pp. 271-298

Quemin Alain (2006), "Globalization and Mixing in the Visual Arts: An Empirical Survey of 'High Culture' and Globalization", International Sociology, No. 21, pp. 522-550

Scott, John. C. (1985), Weapons of the Weak . Everyday of peasant resistance, Yale University Press, 1985 (selected chapters)

Sherman, Rachel (2007), Class Acts: Service and Inequality in Luxury Hotels, Berkeley/Los Angeles, University of California Press (selected chapters)

Siméant Johanna (2012), "Committing to internationalization: Careers of African Participants at the World social Forum", Social Movement studies. Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, pp. 1-19

Sklair Leslie (2001), The Transnational Capitalist Class, Blackwell Publishers, pp. 10-33

Steinmetz, George (2008), "The Colonial State as a Social Field.", American Sociological Review, 73(4), pp. 589–612

Wagner Anne-Catherine (2011), "The Confederation Générale du Travail (CGT) in West Africa: the Difficulties of constructing Trade Union Internationalism", in Craig Phelan, Trade Unions in West Africa. Historical and contemporary Perspectives, Peter Lang, pp. 23-44.


Mikael Palme, March 27th, 2014

For practical reasons, the course is divided into three components, each one of which corresponds to 2.5 ETCS, totalling 7.5 ETCS. While the evaluation is made by the lecturing guest teachers, credits will be awarded by Uppsala University. In order to receive credits for any one of the components, course participants need to write a short essay on a given topic related to the component with a length corresponding to between 4 and 6 pages. These essay should show that the participant is familiar with the course literature for the component and have taken part in the lectures and discussions during the course. The topics given for the evaluation vary between the components as follows:

Component 1: Institutional Power: Ethnicity, Race, Class and State (Bertrand Réau)
Choose one of the following topics:
1. Which are the relationships between State, Race and Class?
2. How can we produce a history “from the bottom”?
3. Which are the functions of tourism in the postcolonial States?

Component 2: Social capital, symbolic capital and hierarchy Inside the Field of power (François Denord)
Topic to be presented soon

Component 3: Globalization and Elites (Anne-Chatérine Wagner)
Only one topic: What are the effects of the globalization on elites?

Information on time limits for handing in the evaluation will be given at the start of the course.



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