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Elites and Political Leadership

Standing Group

Established 2015 - Number of members: 430

Steering Committee Chair

  • Elena Semenova (Freie Universität Berlin)

Steering Committee

  • Despina Alexiadou (University of Strathclyde)
  • Juan Rodríguez Teruel (University of Valencia)
  • Jens Borchert (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt) Co-Chair
  • Luca Verzichelli (Università degli Studi di Siena)
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The primary goal of the Standing Group on Elites and Political Leadership (SGOEPL) is to provide a formal framework to communicate, meet, share and disseminate research, ideas and data among scholars whose interests extend to the realm of social and political elites and political leadership. These elites include but are not restricted to executive-level political elites, non-elected elites (e.g. bureaucrats), judicial elites and legislative elites (party leaders, parliamentary leaders and officers), media elites and business elites. SGOEPL is committed to the creation, promotion and dissemination of rigorous, empirically tested research. SGOEPL will draw together scholars researching elites and political leadership to provide an intellectual space for the development and dissemination of scholarly activity across the broad range of leadership and elite study. There are naturally synergies between research on political leadership and elites.


Elite activities of interest include elite careers, networks and the political and social origins/consequences/outputs of elite activity. Research which focuses on comparative ministerial appointment and deselection at the national, subnational and supranational levels of government will serve as a core pillar of the SGOEPL mandate. However, interest in the origins, organization and effects of political career paths has recently extended to explore and explain the patterns of bureaucratic, party and judicial elite careers on wider political and social phenomenon; e.g. post-political career trajectories. Further, advances in the ability to easily mine and harvest social media data now provides us with the opportunity to conduct complex computer-assisted network analysis which in turn facilitates research on the links between political and social elites via media, business and private networks.

The study of political leaders and leadership draws on fundamental cross-disciplinary notions of structure and agency and relates to political elites in terms of shared theoretical foundations and the methods that enrich and energise the field. Interests extend to the following: the style and impact of individual leaders; forms and categories of political and public leadership; relational aspects analysing the complex transaction between leaders and followers; and institutional constraints on the exercise of political authority. Elite networks and the immediate support groups (staff etc.) of leaders often overlap or are forming complex social and political networks that require both empirical and theoretical investigation that can be addressed by the SGOEPL. Beyond formal institutional leadership and executive arrangements, the SGOEPL will also reach out to scholars researching political and social counter elites. Such research includes more informal forms of leadership, for instance in social and political movements.

  • SGOEPL will facilitate recruitment, networking and community building through a rigorous social media presence: facebook, twitter, linkedin,
  • SGOEPL will serve as a “town square” for elite and leadership studies’ major collaborative research projects as they are identified, develop and come to fruition,
  • SGOEPL will actively participate in the organization and promotion of elite and political leadership studies-­-related sections and panels for the ECPR General Conference as well the sponsorship of workshops in the Joint Sessions,
  • SGOEPL will actively promote the ECPR research sessions as a venue to give voice to and explore avant-garde research as it relates to elite and leadership studies in an interdisciplinary context,
  • SGOEPL will take a leadership role in the promotion and support of members’ best and brightest graduate students through the annual ECPR Graduate Students’ Conference,
  • SGOEPL will organize a short summer/winter school in quantitative and qualitative methods designed for the study of social and political elites
  • SGOEPL will serve as a platform to coordinate the application among members for major cross-­-national and EU-­-supported research funding schemes.


The Standing Group on Elites and Political Leadership steering committee is made of five members and must be composed to ensure gender representation.