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Reading: Introduction to Otto Kirchheimer, ‘Elite – Consent – Control in the Western Political System’

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Introduction to Otto Kirchheimer, ‘Elite – Consent – Control in the Western Political System’

Authors:

Frank Schale ,

Technical University of Chemnitz, DE
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Hubertus Buchstein

University of Greifswald, DE
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Abstract

Kirchheimer's manuscript ‘Elite - Consent - Control in the Western Political System’ is printed in this volume of ‘Redescriptions’ in its original form as an unedited draft paper which was read at the Columbia Seminar on October 26, 1964. The paper consists of 17 typewritten pages and no additional handwritten annotations by the author. In the paper, Kirchheimer presents an ambitious programmatic diagnosis of the general political situation on modern western democracies with special emphasis on internal stabilizing and destabilizing tendencies. The manuscript belongs to a phase in Kirchheimer's work, in which his interest had shifted towards more general considerations about the one-dimensional character of affluent western industrial and consumer societies and in which he moved closer to the critical sense of the Frankfurt School again. The paper is structured in four main parts. It begins with an introduction in which Kirchheimer very briefly defines the crucial social, socio-economic and cultural elements of the “Western industrial society” and raises the question whether and to what extent these elements produce “related ways of handling political problems”. In the next three sections, Kirchheimer discusses this question under the triple heading ‘elite’, ‘consensus’, and ‘control’.

How to Cite: Schale, Frank, and Hubertus Buchstein. 2014. “Introduction to Otto Kirchheimer, ‘elite – Consent – Control in the Western Political System’”. Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory 17 (2): 140–48. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7227/R.17.2.2
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Published on 01 Sep 2014.
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