Elites and Society. T. B. Bottomore. Watts & Co.
All societies dominated by scarcity tend to produce elites. For this reason theories which emphasize the importance of elites acquire wide currency because they seem capable of explaining so much. But precisely because they can be employed so universally elite theories tend to blur the distinct features of any particular type of society—they prevent us from understanding the particular mediation of the scarcity situation and the division of labour which any given historical society represents. In this book T. B. Bottomore provides a very useful account of elite theories and subjects them to rigorous critical examination. As accounts of modern society he continually compares them to the Marxist theory—in most cases he finds the latter richer and more suggestive. This necessarily involves him in examining the thesis that modern capitalist society is no longer, if indeed it ever was, a class society. Bottomore persuasively advances evidence and arguments to rebut this thesis. The book concludes with an inquiry into the problem of democracy in modern highly institutionalized society and suggests that only a full democratization of social life at every level, including above all workers’ self management, will enable the problem of elites to be overcome. Martin Malek