Elites in Iceland – homogeneity and internal relationships

Magnús Þór Torfason, Þorgerður Einarsdóttir, Guðbjörg Linda Rafnsdóttir, Margrét Sigrún Sigurðardóttir

Abstract


Iceland has generally been characterized as a nation where social and economic equality are prominent, and where elite structures are relatively unimportant. There are, however, indications that elites exist, and futhermore, that they are becoming more pronounced and that inequality is on the rise. The goal of this paper is to analyze the business and commerce elite in Iceland the years 2014 and 2015, based on its relations with other elite groups and relations within the group. This allows conclusions to be drawn about the openness of the elite, its relations with the populace, and the democratic structures of the group. The analysis utilizes two data sets: Power and Democracy – A Study of Elites, and Gender Equality in Business: Evolution and Influence. Graphical analysis of elite structures was performed using R and igraph. The results indicate various internal relationship structures within the business and commerce elite. Residential homogeneity is prevalent, especially among male and older elites. A top management team member’s participation in politics or organized sports is predictive of greatly increased residential homogeneity in his or her team. The results suggest a layered elite structure and gaps in elite-populace relations. This indicates that it is important to consider the democratic structures of the Icelandic business elite and whether its homogeneity affects decision making within the elite.

Keywords


Business and commerce; homogeneity; elites; democracy; social networks.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2017.13.1.1

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