Determining the Elite Within Politics and the Judiciary

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Determining the Elite Within Politics and the Judiciary Abstract To begin addressing this question, it was first necessary to define the term elite. From here, it was then possible to clarify the specific positions within the upper ranks of politics and the senior judiciary that I would be examining. Once this was established, the relationship between British elites and the social structure both past and present was outlined, along with the basic views of those who have commented upon this association. This provided the appropriate context through which to compare the recruitment, structure and power of the named elites. Following the analysis of these three dimensions, it was then possible to assess their relationship with the current British social structure as a totality. Defining the Elite The development of ideas concerning elites in society has led to the application of the term elite in a number ways. I intend to employ a definition similar to that proposed by Stanworth (1984 p247), which simply signifies those individuals occupying high positions of authority within an institution or organisation. However, the attribution of authority does not automatically equate with a given amount of power and I will examine this association in more detail later in the paper. Determining the Elite within Politics and the Judiciary The Political Elite ------------------- By applying the definitions I have just outlined to the sectors I have chosen for comparison, it is now possible to establish which members of these groups can be termed the 'elite'. Within the area of Politics, I will focus on the formal positi... ... middle of paper ... ...tain groups have to elite membership and their ability to maintain a system that protects their existing interests is a core aspect of how we define privilege itself. Such a definition incorporates the discrimination experienced by many women and ethnic minority groups, as well as those within the working class. Indeed, I would have liked to explore the disparities of gender and race in more detail, however the information available concerning these groups in relation to elite positions was somewhat limited. In Britain today, the only real prospect of severing this structural bias is greater European integration and the consequent adoption of fairer financial and social policy. However, the likelihood of changes so unfavourable to the current dominant interests being accepted into our system is somewhat questionable.

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