Reckless opportunists

Elites at the end of the Establishment

By Aeron Davis

Reckless opportunists
Hardcover +
  • Price: £9.99
  • ISBN: 9781526127273
  • Publish Date: Mar 2018
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £9.99
  • ISBN: 9781526127280
  • Publish Date: Mar 2018
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £9.99
  • ISBN: 9781526127297
  • Publish Date: Mar 2018
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information


    Aeron Davis takes a close look at the state of elites today. He argues that the Brexit vote and 2017 election outcome are signs of a deeper leadership crisis that has been developing over decades. The great transformations of the 1980s onwards have not only upended societies, they have reshaped elite rule itself.

    Too many leaders today, regardless of intent, are ignorant, precarious, rootless and self-serving. Although richer, they have lost coherence, influence and control. Increasingly, they are just reckless opportunists, getting what they can amid the chaos they have created. Their failings are not only damaging wider society, they are undermining the very foundations of the Establishment itself.

    The book, based on interviews with over 350 elite figures, asks: how did we end up producing the leaders that got us here and what can we do about it?


    'An indispensable addition to elite scholarship that was decades in the making and arrives not a minute too soon. As the West continues to quake in the face of "populist" furore, Aeron Davis's deft analysis of his "barbarians inside the gate" shows an establishment torn asunder. Scholars and pundits trying to make sense of the establishment overthrow in the West will ignore Reckless opportunists at their own peril'.
    Janine R. Wedel, Professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

    'Aeron Davis has spent two decades talking to members of the financial, political, and media elites - and here he lines them all up to explain how they've created the debacle that is Brexit Britain.'
    Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian

    'Aeron Davis's new book on the Establishment re-writes the rules of the genre. He is a rare thing, a critical outsider who has managed to gain extensive insider access. His close-up accounts offer fascinating new insights into the apparent dysfunction of modern politics.'
    Iain Dale, political commentator, publisher, LBC broadcaster

    'Chaos often feels like the best word to describe the world my generation is inheriting. Reckless Opportunists shines a light on how the decay of the Establishment feeds that chaos. It's terrifying but it also gives me hope that a different and better world is possible.'
    Joe Earle, author of The Econocracy

    'Aeron Davis pulls back the curtain on the wizards of Oz who rule us. And having studied them for decades he tells their story brilliantly. They were never as good as we were led to
    Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography, University of Oxford



    Part I: Barbarians inside the gate
    1 The end of the Establishment?
    2 Elites against the institution

    Part II: Getting to the top
    3 Selling leaders
    4 Rise of the greasy poll experts

    Part III: Staying at the top
    5 Different worlds, different cultures
    6 Secrets and lies
    7 The numbers game

    Part IV: Exit strategies
    8 The safety of the herd
    9 Liquid leaders and networks


    Aeron Davis is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Centre (PERC) at Goldsmiths, University of London

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