Measuring the Potential Power Elite in the UK and Sweden



Griffiths D, Lambert P & Bihagen E (2014) Measuring the Potential Power Elite in the UK and Sweden. European Societies, 16 (5), pp. 742-762.

This paper proposes a methodology for using survey data to understand the composition of elites, through analysing the pool of potential members. An occupational-based measure of ‘potential power elite' (PPE) is created and compared with other measures of occupational advantage. It is argued that this measure can be utilised to explore if the processes causing certain social groups to be under-represented in elite positions are around selection or the population recruited from. We provide analysis of elite positions in the UK and Sweden, demonstrating differences in terms of the potential pool of elite members and the occupational histories of people of those employed in roles associated with elite recruitment. We argue that understanding the composition of the PPE provides a more nuanced analysis of the processes of meritocracy in accessing positions of power and social influence.

power elite; social stratification; social mobility; occupational attainment

European Societies: Volume 16, Issue 5

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/10/2014
Publication date online29/07/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis

People (2)


Dr David Griffiths

Dr David Griffiths

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Professor Paul Lambert

Professor Paul Lambert

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Projects (1)

Research centres/groups