Elites and Forerunners Network


  • Marja Vuorinen | University of Helsinki, Social Science History, Finland

"From counter-elites to establishment to stagnation, to decline and fall."

As always, Elites and forerunners network recommends a dynamic approach to the history of elites. Elites are defined primarily as forces of societal change, not merely as holders of status and privilege or agents of stagnation. The decline and subsequent downfall of historical elites, sometimes followed by a re-emergence, also deserve attention. Elite formations can be explored across the full length of their life span and even beyond.

The network invites individual papers focussing on the history of elites, understood in the widest possible sense. We also look for participants willing to organize complete sessions of four to five papers around a particular topic. Each session must include papers from and about several countries.

In the 2025 conference the network will organise at least one online session to allow participation for those who cannot attend in person. The session will be organised as an all-round session, not focussed on a particular topic.

The network welcomes theoretical, methodological and conceptual approaches. Comparative sessions composed around thematic questions are favoured to narrowly defined epoch and geographically oriented sessions. Sessions focussing on special or unusual types of source materials or particular political, social, economic etc. contexts and processes are also recommended. Sessions may be organised in workshop, roundtable or meet-the-author form.

Session organizers may and should invite participants to join their session, but the acceptance of papers and the final organization of sessions rests with the network.

The network FB group, titled Elites and forerunners, can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1003686776385551/

As always, the potential topics of Elites and forerunners network include, but are not limited to

  • aspiring, established, stagnated, declining, former and re-emerging elites
  • imperial, post-imperial, nationalist, international and transnational elites
  • sub-state and local, rural and urban elites
  • empires and their margins
  • elites away from home: colonial/colonialist, émigré and diaspora elites
  • rupture, rearrangement, continuity of elite structures after regime change
  • elites during totalitarian regimes
  • court elites, court culture and practices, semiotics of monarchy
  • military, religious, clerical, political, diplomatic, administrative and state elites
  • reactionary, conservative, progressive, radical, separatist and revolutionary elites
  • business, industrial, technocrat elites: practices and structures of work, sources of wealth
  • intellectual, academic, educational, media, artistic and architectural elites
  • types, sources and strategies of power, status and distinction
  • politics and propaganda aiming to criticise, overthrow, promote, establish or justify particular elites
  • elites seen from outside or from “below”: caricatures and counter-images
  • elite networks, from inter/supranational to local level
  • family strategies, symbolisms and hierarchies
  • landed and urban elite lifestyles, heritage and preservation issues
  • Big money lifestyles and semiotics of great wealth
  • philanthropy and patronage of arts as elite practices
  • elites and gender
  • materiality of elites