The Power of Integration: Affiliation and Cohesion in a Diverse Elite Network
Author(s): Benjamin Cornwell, Fedor A. Dokshin
Abstract: A much-theorized but seldom-tested theory is that elites achieve cohesion via the social network they form through their affiliations with local clubs, religious institutions, civic groups, and other voluntary associations. But few scholars have considered how increasing diversity with respect to elites' gender, race, and social class may undermine such cohesion. We use primary data from interviews with 312 elites in a large Midwestern city to construct the network of affiliations local elites formed with one another. Results from bootstrapping analyses suggest that the most influential elites in the sample achieved a disproportionately high level of cohesion by virtue of the particular voluntary associations with which they affiliated. Not only were the most influential elites more connected to one another through multiple redundant associational pathways, but their affiliation networks were less segregated by gender, race, and social class than were the networks formed by less elite members of the sample. Instrumental variables regression analyses further show that the most influential elites were especially crucial to increasing cohesion and reducing segregation in the overall network. We discuss some of the mechanisms through which such integration enhances elites' cohesion and power.
Publication Title: Social Forces, Vol. 93(2)
Pub Year: 2014
Keywords: power, social classes, influence

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