Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are not often associated with elites and people with power. Yet, these feelings might influence their behaviour and practices much more than would be assumed at first sight. Hence, this panel addresses these aspects in order to enhance the understanding of power.
Uncertainty, anxious feelings and bearing the consequences of chaos are themes predominantly associated with vulnerable and marginalised groups. Elites and people with power are often associated with confidence and conviction. These groups, however, are per definition small, making them vulnerable to the moods of other (much more numerous) social groups. Consequently, insecurity and perceptions of loss, potentially masked by an air of confidence, appears to influence their behaviour and practices much more than would be assumed at first sight.
Anthropology has largely neglected elites and their roles, focusing instead on the poor and marginal. To counterbalance this tendency, this panel seeks to address the role of elites (financial, political, intellectual, etc.) and power holders' (police officers, military personnel, etc.) feelings of, among others, insecurity and uncertainty, in order to enhance the understanding of power. They, after all, are part and parcel of social interactions and power relations, and we cannot fully grasp power and issues of marginalisation if we do not include a profound understanding of these groups. The panel focuses on how elite perceptions (and fears) of marginalisation, poverty and other social groups' potential to use force shape elites and power holders' operations and actions. But it will also include a focus on the internal workings of perceptions and (status) anxieties, as the potential for conflict and rivalry within the confined boundaries of elite and powerful groups should not be underestimated - (in)directly shaping their stand towards the 'outside' world.