ESSHC 2023 Elites and forerunners network

The 14th European Social Science History Conference, 12-15 April 2023, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden,

Elites and forerunners network call for papers & sessions, DL 15 April 2022

To propose a paper or session, you must pre-register at the official ESSHC website. Fill in the pre-registration form at, including an abstract of your paper (max 2 pages). Please send in your form by April 15, 2022.

To propose a complete session, also contact the network chair directly at marja.h.e.vuorinen(at)

During conference, voluntary session chairs and discussants are invaluable for the smooth functioning of the sessions and the quality of discussion, so please consider ticking that box in the preregistration form.

Elites and forerunners network recommends a dynamic approach to the history of elites. Elites are defined primarily as forces of societal change, not merely as holders of status and privilege or agents of stagnation. The decline and subsequent downfall of historical elites, sometimes followed by a re-emergence, also deserve attention. Elite formations can be explored across the full length of their life span and even beyond.

The network invites individual papers focussing on the history of elites, understood in the widest possible sense.

We also look for participants willing to organize complete sessions of four to five papers around a particular topic. Each session must include papers from and about several countries.

The network welcomes theoretical, methodological and conceptual approaches. Comparative sessions composed around thematic questions are favoured to narrowly defined epoch and geographically oriented sessions. Sessions focussing on special or unusual types of source materials or particular political, social, economic etc. contexts and processes are also recommended. Sessions may be organised in workshop, roundtable or meet-the-author form.

Session organizers may and should invite participants to join their session, but the acceptance of papers and the final organization of sessions rests with the network.

Elites network FB group, titled Elites and forerunners, can be found at


In Gothenburg, the network will organise a special session on 19th to 20th century European land reforms, focussing on varying national cases – from pre-WW I situation to post-Cold War and EU period – mainly as seen from the point of view of big landowners, progressive politicians and/or administrative elites. The session (or double session) may be organised as a combination of ordinary session and roundtable format. This will allow the participants to choose whether they wish to give their conference paper on this topic or join as discussants, giving their official papers about another topic in other sessions.


The potential topics of Elites and forerunners network include, but are not limited to

  • aspiring, established, stagnated, declining, former and re-emerging elites
  • imperial, post-imperial, nationalist, international and transnational elites
  • sub-state and local, rural and urban elites
  • empires and their margins
  • elites away from home: colonial/colonialist, émigré and diaspora elites
  • rupture, rearrangement, continuity of elite structures during and after regime changes
  • elites during totalitarian regimes
  • court elites, court culture and practices, semiotics of monarchy
  • military, religious, clerical, political, diplomatic, administrative and state elites
  • reactionary, conservative, progressive, radical, separatist, revolutionary and populist elites
  • business, industrial, technocrat elites: practices and structures of work, sources of wealth
  • intellectual, academic, educational, media, artistic and architectural elites
  • types, sources and strategies of power, status and distinction
  • semiotics of power and upper class practices
  • argumentation and propaganda aimed to criticise, overthrow, promote, establish or justify particular elites
  • elites seen from outside, or from “below”: caricatures and counter-images of particular elites
  • elite networks, from inter/supranational to local level
  • elite family strategies, symbolisms and hierarchies
  • landed and urban elite lifestyles
  • Big money: lifestyles and semiotics of great wealth
  • philanthropy and patronage of arts as elite practices
  • elites and gender
  • materiality of elites
  • heritage and preservation issues