Accepted Paper:

Elite power: in defence  
Tijo Salverda (University of Vienna)

Paper long abstract:

The Franco-Mauritians, the white elite of the island Mauritius, established a strong position in the colonial times through their involvement in the sugar industry but have since faced numerous challenges to their elite position. They have a history of dealing with change and crises of decline and I have come to realise by closely analysing changes and elite reactions that for a better theoretical understanding of elite power we have to take into consideration that elites often do not initiate power struggles but apply their power 'defensively' in order to preserve their position. In the analysis of 'defensive' power, moreover, the elites' perceptions and imaginations of 'threats' require special attention: the Franco-Mauritian case shows that elites tend to imagine the slightest change as targeting at them and respond accordingly. The elites' imaginations and perceptions then determine their 'defensive' use of power and, consequently, influence the outcome of crises.

Panel W079
Elite groups, crisis and imagination