Recent research has pinpointed how Norway is a country that is often receiving attention for egalitarian traits, but paradoxically constitutes a society with dynastic tendencies and where high-end wealth inequalities and are on the rise. The centrality of inheritance and kinship in attaining high wealth has been an important finding in the burgeoning studies of economic elites. Yet, the role of family firms and corporate networks for dynastic wealth is unknown.
WEB investigates how social networks are linked to family dynasties and elite power and raises questions such as:
- How are marriage and kinship ties linked to business networks?
- What is the role of family-owned businesses in channeling economic privileges between parents and children?
- Are interconnected elites politically cohesive; do interlocked directors engage in political action through membership on political advisory boards or by contributing financially to political parties? Are they socially cohesive; have they shared attendance at educational institutions or resided in proximity over their life courses?
- What patterns of elite circulation and elite integration across different sectors (e.g. the economy, the state, educational and nongovernmental institutions) are evident in Norway, and how have they evolved over time?
The project is organized in two work packages that concern i) the role of patrimony in business networks, and ii) elite cohesion and elite circulation over time in Norway.
Elites are back on the agenda in the social sciences. The centrality of inheritance and kinship in attaining high wealth has been an important finding in the burgeoning studies of economic elites. Yet, the sociological emphasis on the institutional underpinnings to elite power and the emphasis placed on network ties across organizational divides are insufficiently linked to notions of patrimony in contemporary societies. The project moves the field of elite studies forward by cross-fertilizing insights from research on economic elites with insights from sociological network studies.
This theoretical fusion will help pave the way to insights into how patrimony not only relates to the attainment of great fortunes but also may enable access to profitable networks in the economy and to positions of control. The project will address these issues in Norway, a country that is often receiving attention for egalitarian traits, but paradoxically constitutes a society where high-end wealth inequalities and dynastic tendencies are on the rise.
The project employs a combination of social network analysis and regression frameworks to examine how family ties are implicated in corporate networks and to detail whether networked elites are socially and politically cohesive. The project is methodologically innovative by exploiting administrative registry data as a source of network data.
Specifically, this will help theorize precisely the role of family firms in dynastic succession; how kinship ties are implicated in corporate networks and the advantages that may flow from such ties; the role of educational institutions and residential proximity in breeding cohesion among interconnected elites. Finally, the project brings to light the political behavior of economic elites, and whether societal elites across diverse fields such as culture, state and business, are interconnected through cross-sectoral organizational boards.