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Alfred de Grazia: Discovering National Elites





The discovery of the elite and the delineation of the roles of its members moves the operator nearer the goal of choosing targets, but does not complete the task. Even though the total elite may not be a large group, some portions of it may be more relevant to the purposes of the operator, others less. To assure economy of activity and to make effort more effective, the operator must distinguish between the more relevant and the less relevant targets which become available after the elite has been identified.

The best way to choose between potential targets within the elite is to study the issues which concern the respective parts of the target power structure and to discover which are most relevant to the operator’s policies. The simple logic of the operation consists of three steps: (a) determination of issues to which the elite are oriented; (b) determination of the policies to which the operator is oriented; (c) establishing which issues - and which members of the elite - are relevant to (b). It is useful also to differentiate between the primary elite targets which this analysis will reveal and the secondary targets made up of elite who are less directly concerned with the relevant issues.

Such an analysis will draw heavily upon the information obtained from the study of the background area described in Section III, and from the study of the roles of individual influentials and groups of influentials outlined in Section IV. In effect, it calls for an analysis of three basic variables, each of which has the characteristic of successively describing or delimiting the target. To revue the total operation suggested thus far, one can think of starting with nation or community X, an undifferentiated potential target. By studying the structure and the functions of the target, he has made it specific - XA; by investigating elite roles he has delimited it to - XA/B. And now by investigating elite issues and their relevance to the operator’s policies, he will come near pinpointing the target as - XA/B/C.


V-1. Issues with high visibility. A first step in issue analysis is to determine those public issues which are of concern to the elite. What issue indicators are present in the press? In the other mass communications media? Is there concern with basic power issues which will determine the inclusion or exclusion of certain influential groups in the power structure? Is there a personal contest for power between individual influentials? The mass media have been said to be agenda-makers, i.e., they determine what people will talk about, what they will think about. To a considerable degree, the influentials have the more basic power of directing the mass in their media agenda-making. Thus elite concerns may revealed through a study of the press.

V-2. Issues with low visibility. Public issues sometimes are mainly "window-dressing" designed to keep attention away from more basic issues which the elite handle "among themselves". When study of public issues reveals many that seem unimportant, that do not affect the holding or exercise of power, or that seem much removed from what the structural -functional analysis of the society has shown or what the role study of the elite has indicated, the operator should look for non-public issues. In such instances, the operator must turn to informants, and usually to those within the elite structure, to discover issues which are the real concern of top influentials.

V-3. Pattern of issue emergence. How does an issue come up in the target area? Is there a formalized system for the development, discussion and resolution of issues? Or are issues developed at a high level and decided there? Is the issue-deciding machinery designed to operate quickly? Is it capable of operating quickly? Or is it a complicated machinery which means that the drawing of an issue will produce indecision and inactivity? Is it possible to have such a thing as a "grass roots" issue? Or are there governmental or informal devices to resolve incipient issues of this type or stamp them out? Does the background study of the target indicate that wide areas have been ruled "out of bounds" as far as disputes are concerned? In some states, for example, it has been impossible to have an issue over religion. The matter is settled and there is little or no likelihood of an issue arising in this sphere. In another state, religion may be a paramount issue, fraught with importance and danger for influentials.

V-4. Relationship of elite to issues. The identification of issues suggested in V-1 through V-4 is incomplete until the operator has related the issues he discovers to specific individuals and groups within the elite structure. He will want to ask and find answers to questions such as these: Will this issue involve the entire elite structure? Will it be a concern of special elites? The knowledge of the elite provided by the analysis of roles should make possible a "matching" of issues and influentials. When this has been done, the operator will have located the influentials relevant to the issues. Unless the target has a very narrow, monolithic power structure and a small elite which concerns itself with every facet of life, one can expect that there will be a division of labor among the elite. An issue on public education will be the concern of school influentials, possibly of the intellectual elite and possibly also of the religious elite, to give an example. It may or may not involve the business elite or the bureaucratic elite. Such potential groupings around issues can almost always be expected.

At the same time, issues will not necessarily have fixed boundaries within the elite. Expansions and contractions can be expected, which is to say that the "relevant" group of influentials may change in the course of an issue. The school problem may develop a financial aspect, such as a bond issue, which will bring in the financial elite to discuss this special phase and to make a specific decision, then to leave the larger school issue to the original group. Or political and bureaucratic interests may be drawn in by a proposal to put teachers on civil service or to centralize the school system.

As a general rule, the operator will make the most progress towards matching relevant influentials and issues by noting the primary elite role of the power-wielder. Yet he should not lose sight of the fact that most power-wielders have several roles, and they may thus become relevant to the issue through one or more secondary roles. Such persons would constitute a target of secondary relevance as far as the issues are concerned.

V-5. Relationship of operator’s policy to issues. The study of issues in the target area and of the relevant influentials would be academic unless the operator found it possible to relate them to his own goals, his mission as set out in directives and orders. A power struggle within the elite between factions which would maintain roughly the same kind of regime, which would mean little or no change in the relationships of the target with the U.S. would not be a very relevant issue, as far as the operator is concerned. On the other hand, a power struggle between influentials, one of whom was very friendly to the U.S. and the other a direct critic or opponent of the U.S., would be extremely relevant to the operator. A broad framework of relevancy can be erected. Is the issue likely to result in a change of the attitude of power-wielders to the U.S? Is the issue likely to produce a physical change in personnel? Or will it produce a new elite point of view inimical to U.S. interests?

Often, the operator’s directives will stress the preservation of the target area’s independent status as a U.S. goal. In this even, an issue which might have an end possibility of threatening the independence of the ration would be particularly relevant. On the other end of scale would be the local issue which would not change the status. This the operator could ignore. Another framework is suggested: Is the issue likely to result in an unfavorable change in the status of the state (as distinct from that of the influentials themselves)?

If the operator’s directives contain specific goals, he may find a kind of "face relationship"? between such specific goals and members of the elite. For example, if American policy concerned a vital raw material, its production and its availability to the United States as needed, the operator would tag as especially relevant to him those elite members who were particularly effective in applying their power in the specialized fields involved in production of the raw material. He might then assign higher target priority, on grounds of greater relevancy, to the owners of the mines, the union leaders, and the local elites of communities in which the raw material was processed. Thus there is another framework: Do the specific goals of the operator’s mission suggest the classes of influentials (or even individual power wielders) that are specifically relevant to these goals?

V-6. Short-range relevancy versus long-range. Any study of issues and of their relevancy must be a continuing project. There will be changes in the operator’s specific goals: there will be a procession of issues in the target area. The lists of relevant influentials will need to be revised continually, sometimes in terms of a specific list - or target - for this mission, and another for the next. While paying attention to targets on the basis of what might be called "short-range relevancies," the operator should not lose sight, however, of long-range goals which may indicate that a basic, continuing group of influentials should be considered as a target. To the degree that his directives make such a breakdown necessary, he may with to classify the total elite into these sub-divisions: 1) prime short-rang targets which have been identified by issue-relevancy to the immediate goals of the U.S. and by influential-relevancy to the issues; 2) secondary short-range targets, which have been identified by issue-relevancy and by secondary influential-relevancy, i.e. those influentials interested in the issue by reason of a subsidiary role; (3) prime long-range targets, made up of influentials with a concern in continuing relevant issues; 4) secondary long-range targets, made up those with a secondary interest in these same issues.

This ordering of targets will make it possible for the operator to concentrate upon the prime groups when time and assistance are lacking. And the knowledge of additional targets will make it possible for him to expand operations in a meaningful way if funds and personnel are made available. If there is a general elite biographical file, the operator might indicate in it the issues to which the individual has risen. After a time, either by punched card analysis (See Appendix C) or by going through the files, one may be able to select the most probable activists on a forthcoming issue of the same class as a past series of issues.

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