Despite its prominence in public discourse, the notion of elites remains a highly contested and ambiguous part of modern political discourse. This monograph rehabilitates the idea of elites and gives it a solid theoretical footing, while relating it with the historical development of liberal thought in the west. The analysis offered in the book concentrates on the tradition of liberal political thought in France, which has consistently tackled the question of the elites, their role in society, and the process of their formation.
Combining theoretical insights with practical wisdom, French liberal thinkers have seen the elite as an indispensable social category and as a vehicle for the development of human liberty. In their different prescriptive doctrines, French liberal thinkers have sought to reconcile the emergence of social elites with the requirements of social and political equality, as well as with the ongoing modernization of mores and institutions. The monograph offers a unique contribution to scholarship in modern political thought by engaging analytically with the notion of elites, as well as by offering a structured discussion on the historical development of liberalism in France.