added a research item
Elites and their formation have become a matter of increasing public concern and research interest in recent years. The lessons from such research can be made more generalisable if a measure of elite formation could be developed that is comparable across different elite formation systems, whether they differ by elite, time or country. But, the nature of elite formation renders this a complex task. Nevertheless, in this article, by building upon measures employed in other fields such as industrial economics, indices are constructed that facilitate the comparison of elite formation systems. This is illustrated through a comparison of the schooling of Irish and British cabinet ministers.
The role of higher education systems in the formation and reproduction of governing elites, and their countervailing potential for the creation of a more egalitarian, or meritocratic, society, has been an enduring subject of concern, debate and research. Many of these debates are made all the more difficult by our inability to directly compare elite formation systems within and between countries and over time. To resolve these problems, this paper employs elite formation quantitative indices to directly and transparently compare elite formation systems, namely the role of higher education systems in political elite formation over three quarters of a century in two countries. Specifically, the paper compares the influence, exclusiveness and eliteness of the Irish and British higher education systems in the production of their respective governing political elites in the 75 years between 1937 and 2012.