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Elite Settlements and the Taming of Politics


A BASIC QUESTION IS HOW POLITICS ARE TAMED AND CEASE BEING A deadly, warlike affair. The most dramatic way is through sudden, deliberate and lasting compromises of core disputes among political elites – what we think of as ‘elite settlements’. Prior to settlements elites disagree about government institutions, engage in unchecked fights for dominance, and view politics as winner-take-all. After settlements, elite persons and groups continue to be affiliated with conflicting parties, movements, and beliefs, but they share a consensus about government institutions and the codes and rules of political competition. Settlements tame politics by generating tacitly accommodative and overtly restrained practices among competing political elites.

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Giovanni Sartori , ‘How Far Can Free Government Travel?’, Journal of Democracy, 6 (07 1995), pp. 101–11.

Michael G. Burton and John Higley , ‘Elite Settlements’, American Sociological Review, 52: 3 (June 1987), pp. 295317.

S. E. Finer , ‘Pareto and Pluto‐Democracy: The Retreat to the Galapagos’, American Political Science Review, 62 (1968), pp. 440–50.

Guillermo O'Donnell , ‘Illusions About Consolidation’, Journal of Democracy, 7 (041996), pp. 3451.

Kevin Neuhouser , ‘Democratic Stability in Venezuela: Elite Settlement or Class Compromise?’, American Sociological Review, 57 (1992), pp. 117–35.

Guillermo O'Donnell , ‘Delegative Democracy’, Journal of Democracy, 5 (011994), pp. 5569.

David Lane , ‘The Gorbachev Revolution: The Role of the Political Elite in Regime Disintegration’, Political Studies, 44 (April 1996), pp. 4–23; ‘Transition Under ‘Eltsin: The Nomenklatura and Political Elite Circulation’, Political Studies, 45 (12. 1997), pp. 855–74.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
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