Hyper centralized and hierarchical integration of Elites in Madagascar
Linda RuaThis article explores one of the potential impediments to the development of Madagascar, which has been experiencing a recession and recurrent socio-political crises for sixty years: relationships between elites. Elites’ integration is broadly considered as essential to the stability of democratic regimes in the literature. Several patterns of elites’ integration have been proposed in the literature. The pluralist approach (e.g, Dahl, 1961) claims that elites are fragmented into many social circles of different sectors, with competing interests. The consensual integration model (Higley et alii, 1991) considers that the elites are tightly integrated, through a large cohesive “central circle” including the most influential elites from all sectors and social background. Several empirical studies support the third model in developed countries (e.g., Higley et alii, 1991). However, no such study had been conducted in developing countries.
Using a database of unprecedented scope and comprehensiveness (ELIMAD), I analyse the degree and the structure of integration of the elites’ network. The survey covers 1,000 national elites from diverse fields of power (political, economic, bureaucratic, civil society and others) who represent the most powerful people in Madagascar, including presidents, prime ministers, line ministers, generals, admirals, large corporation CEOs and senior management, and political and civil society leaders. It provides exceptionally detailed information about their background, their trajectory (elite positions) and their social networks (relationships with other elites). The global network of elites, reconstituted from a name generator, contains 3,431 nodes and 16,604 ties.
First, I analyse the degree of integration of the elites’ global network, by calculating a fragmentation coefficient (Borgatti, 2006) and a small world ratio (Watts & Strogatz, 1998). Second, I measure the level of integration between elites from different fields by computing interfields density of ties and communities’ degree of specialization. Third, to reveal the structure of the elite network, I use the k-core decomposition, a method never used in empirical studies on national elites. This consists in decomposing the network into several gradually cohesive sub-graphs to highlight a potential heterogeneity in the integration of the network. Fourth, I analyse the determinants of the position of the elites in this structure, with a multinomial regression.
The results reject the pluralist model. Elites are broadly integrated, especially between fields. However, as in the consensual integration model, I find a core-periphery structure with a highly cohesive, powerful and multi-fields central circle, and a more scattered and specialized periphery. The global integration of the elites in Madagascar is mainly achieved through the central circle. But several differences with consensual integration led me to formulate a fourth model of elites’ integration: hyper centralized and hierarchical integration. In Madagascar, the powerful central circle is made up only of a tiny minority of elites, essentially from the political field. In addition, the elites from the most modest social origins are relegated to the extreme periphery of the network. This type of elite integration has never been highlighted in the literature. This unequal integration could partly explain the recurrent instability that Madagascar is experiencing.