JANINE WEDEL SHADOW ELITE PDF

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Rather, they are a relatively new, distinctly terrestrial constellation of actors who are remolding the landscape of global governance. Applying her longstanding interests in informal institutions and social networks in Central and Eastern Europe to a more global arena, Wedel examines the rise of flexians and the social networks in which they interact i. In their ability to personalize bureaucracy, privatize information, occupy multiple professional roles, and relax rules at the state-private nexus, flexians blur traditional boundaries between state-private, bureaucratic-market, and legal-illegal practices that ultimately undermines public accountability and market competition.

Shadow Elite carefully details the activities of these players in post-Cold War Poland and Russia as well as the privatization of and neoconservative ascendancy within the US government. In late socialist Poland, where the author first observed the workings of these operators, the mix of public and private as well as formal and informal practices enabled ordinary citizens and state officials to negotiate the constraints of a shortage economy. Indeed, she notes how despite the neoliberal rhetoric of downsizing government, the federal government has actually expanded for almost twenty years with many vital government functions contracted out to private actors working for think tanks, consulting companies, and the like.

The Neocons, too, personalized bureaucracy, privatized information, circumvented rules of accountability, and inhabited ambiguous professional roles to promote their foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. Despite the different country contexts, then, these flexians nevertheless share a remarkable set of behaviors that make them such adept manipulators. One of the key analytic points Wedel makes is the importance of social networks to the new system of governance. Instead of examining the production of governance power in a narrow and abstract legal-rationalistic framework, in other words, Wedel wisely puts human agency at the heart of her story.

The flexians who are redrawing the boundaries between official and private power derive their group identity and authority from their shared social backgrounds, ideologies, and personal relations that enable them to link disparate yet powerful institutions together in the case of the Neocons, think tanks, the media, and the Pentagon. In a flex group, an apostate is kept in line through immediate banishment from social membership — witness the temporary exile of Barry McCaffrey after he became critical of the conduct of the Iraq war p.

Unfortunately, conventional audits are inadequate tools to hold flexians accountable. In fact, they are part of the problem. Given the importance of network relations to this group, it should come as no surprise that accountability tends to become diffused, thereby making it difficult for current accountability systems to assess flex players.

So far, flexians have demonstrated a remarkable ability to avoid the consequences of their actions because the tools to monitor and oversee them have not kept pace with changing practices. How this system will look and operate — and to what effect — remains the task of our collective energies and creativity. For a collective response not piecemeal responses by individuals or individual institutions is what is necessary if such investigations are truly to have an impact.

Their desire for power and influence not just money makes the corruption label difficult to stick. And so, to attack powerful Western institutions such as the media, Pentagon, think tanks, government bodies, and corporations as the main promoters of the neoliberal agenda and treat those on the periphery as passive recipients would be too simple, as the sociologists Johanna Bockman and Gil Eyal argue. Finally, I wish to draw attention to an undercurrent of productive tension that runs through Shadow Elite.

Coles And this is what Wedel sets out to do in her book by uncovering the subterranean activities of her elite informants. The case of Enron is a good example of this. My point is not that Wedel is against transparency. Rather, I think that she is subtly problematizing it by suggesting transparency and accountability are embedded in power relations and therefore not necessarily objective purveyors of the truth.

Hence, one can be transparent and demonstrate accountability without being accountable. We must be careful not to conflate terms and concepts. In future studies that build on this work, it would be valuable to see a more fully developed and in-depth examination of one flex group that is reconceptualizing state-private relations.

Methodological challenges aside e. Written with journalistic clarity without sacrificing theoretical and analytic rigor, Shadow Elite sheds light on a phenomenon largely hidden from the public gaze. Good scholarship, as Wedel herself notes p. In this, the book succeeds admirably.

Bockman, Johanna and Gil Eyal. Coles, Kimberley. Wedel, Janine. Your email address will not be published. Global Integrity. No Comments. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Related blog posts. Global Integrity,. Get in touch. Email updates Want to keep in touch? Sign up for updates.

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Janine R. Wedel

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Interview: The 'Shadow Elite,' WikiLeaks, And Living In A 'Dangerous Era'

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Shadow Elite

HuffPost Book of the Month! Governments and administrations come and go, but not so a new breed of power brokers, who always seem to pop up just where the action is. Wearing different hats, they press their agendas in venue after venue. According to award-winning public policy scholar and anthropologist Janine Wedel, these are the "shadow elite," the prime movers in a vexing new system of power and influence. Wedel charts how these players make public decisions without public input—in realms from domestic to foreign and financial policy. Maneuvering through their many spheres of influence, they challenge both governments' rules of accountability and businesses' codes of competition, ultimately answering only to each other.

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Rather, they are a relatively new, distinctly terrestrial constellation of actors who are remolding the landscape of global governance. Applying her longstanding interests in informal institutions and social networks in Central and Eastern Europe to a more global arena, Wedel examines the rise of flexians and the social networks in which they interact i. In their ability to personalize bureaucracy, privatize information, occupy multiple professional roles, and relax rules at the state-private nexus, flexians blur traditional boundaries between state-private, bureaucratic-market, and legal-illegal practices that ultimately undermines public accountability and market competition. Shadow Elite carefully details the activities of these players in post-Cold War Poland and Russia as well as the privatization of and neoconservative ascendancy within the US government. In late socialist Poland, where the author first observed the workings of these operators, the mix of public and private as well as formal and informal practices enabled ordinary citizens and state officials to negotiate the constraints of a shortage economy. Indeed, she notes how despite the neoliberal rhetoric of downsizing government, the federal government has actually expanded for almost twenty years with many vital government functions contracted out to private actors working for think tanks, consulting companies, and the like.

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