Elite  

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This page Elite is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
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This page Elite is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
1872 photograph of the western face of the Greek Parthenon
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1872 photograph of the western face of the Greek Parthenon

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An elite in political and sociological theory, is a social class, small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power, by way of high birth and/or social position.

The word elite is taken from the Latin, eligere, "to elect". In sociology as in general usage, the élite (the "elect," from French) is a relatively small dominant group within a larger society, which enjoys a privileged status which is upheld by individuals of lower social status within the structure of a group.

When applied to an individual, as in the phrase "many elites come to this restaurant," the usage quite economically both refers to an individual within that class and establishes the speaker as non-elite.

An elite is the result of economic and political forces within a social structure. Upon formation, societies have always had the tendency to stratify due to a combination of politics and ability. The position of an elite at the top of the social strata almost invariably puts it in a position of leadership and often subjects the holders of elite status to pressure to maintain their position as part of the elite. However, in spite of the pressures borne by its members, the existence of the elite as a social stratum is usually unchanged.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Elite" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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