Theoretical Aspects of Political Elite In Small States

Vadim A. Smirnov – PhD in Political Science, Senior Fellow at Laboratory of sociological analysis, modeling and forecasting of risks of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University.
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The article provides a theoretical analysis of political elites in small states. The author uses comparative analysis and descriptive approach to demonstrate main challenges that small countries ruling class is facing.

The article states that regardless of widespread use of small state concept in political science and international relations theory its definition is still essentially contested. The author elaborates on the quantitative and qualitative approached to the given notion. The conclusion is that small states are not a “small copy” of great powers, and their foreign policy actions are driven by a specific and unique logic. The main feature of this logic is dependency, and asymmetrical relationship with major powers. This shapes the specifics of small state elites’ political preferences and interests.

The article highlights the relevancy of theoretical scrutiny of activity and behavior of political elites of small states. Presented analysis of various cases of political elites’ actions and strategies can to contribute to elite theory. Mainly, contribution is possible in the study of interconnection between internal and external (international) political factors that are influencing actions of elite. This area of research is especially relevant at the current stage of elite theory development. Globally, increase in number of small states, expansion of their toolkit of influence in international system, and erosion of boundary between domestic and foreign policy of states can be considered as a burning issue in Political Science. Also “factor of size” in the field of elite studies in different individual states and interstate associations can further contribute to the discussion.

Key words: small state, political elite, elite theory, international relations, security

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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2017-2-53-254-265 (Read the article in PDF)