ELITES - Special Issue Ethnic and Racial Sudies

The upcoming new elite among children of immigrants: a cross-country and cross-sector comparison. Edited by Maurice Crul & Elif Keskiner. Read the articles here.

New Diversities

Special issue of New Diversities 2014/1 now online.
Guest Editors: Jens Schneider (University of Osnabrück) and Maurice Crul (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
We think that this special issue will make a powerful contribution to current scholarly debates on migration and diversities!


Read our book Super-diversity/Superdiversiteit/Super-diversité (Crul et al 2013) in English, Dutch or French following this link

Maurice Crul: Wereldstad Amsterdam

Superdiversiteit, een nieuwe visie op het Amsterdam van hoogleraar Maurice Crul waarin autochtone inwoners sinds kort de nieuwe minderheid vormen.

"Marokkaanse vrouwen zijn nu in de stad Amsterdam de groep met de langste woongeschiedenis."

Oratie Maurice Crul

Op vrijdag 22 maart hield Maurice Crul zijn inaugurele rede als hoogleraar onderwijs en diversiteit op de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. De titel van zijn oratie is: ‘Superdiversiteit: een nieuwe visie op integratie’.

Emerging leadership

The ELITES project focuses on the upcoming elite in three sectors: law, education and business in four countries. 


The ELITES project will be executed in eight research sites: Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Malmö, Paris, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Strasbourg. ELITES collaborates with partners in these countries and partners in the US.


The international coordination of the ELITES project is in the hands of Professor Maurice Crul.

Maurice Crul at the EUR
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Phone number: +31 0104089164
Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50,
office M06-11
3062 PA Rotterdam, Netherlands



Research program

The ELITES project can build on the international project ‘Pathways to Success’ coordinated by Maurice Crul. In this project a sub sample of successful second generation respondents from the TIES survey1 is interviewed about their pathways to success. The emphasis lies on school and labour market careers. The focus of the ‘Pathways to Success’ project is on a successful group that is not yet part of the elite, but may arrive to such position in the (near) future. The main focus is on how their success affects people in their direct surroundings. The ELITES project will make use of the questionnaire, concepts and field work, and the experiences of this international project. But with ELITES we will go a step further by looking only at the most successful group: those who occupy an elite position.

‘Pathways to Success’ shows that there are considerable differences (after controlling for the differences in education of the parents) in the shares of second generation Turks in higher education (the most important indicator for success in the ‘Pathways to Success’) across the compared cities. We see a sizable share in the cities in France and Sweden (more than a third) and a rather small share in the two German cities (only one in ten). The second generation Turkish youth in the two Dutch cities score in the middle (about a quarter). Quantitative analysis of the TIES data on the second generation Turkish and Moroccan students in higher education in the Netherlands shows that many of them are active in mainstream as well as in Turkish organizations (Crul et al 2008). They often work in civil servant jobs in middle level managerial positions in the local administration, in education, in social work, or in the health sector. Through their study and work contacts they have networks with people from very diverse (ethnic) backgrounds.

The main focus of ‘Pathways to Success’ is to explain the success of a part of the second generation Turkish group. For this purpose we compare the successful second generation Turkish group with the group that is not successful in each city and across cities. In the ELITES project we select, so to speak, on the dependent variable: we only select elite members. As a result, in the ELITES project we make other types of comparisons:

  1. A comparison between second generation Turkish elites and elites of native parentage from a lower class background.
  2. A comparison within both groups between female and male elites.
  3. A comparison between second generation Turkish elites in eight cities.

We define elites as people being ‘influential for decisions and opinions which have relevance for society.' This most commonly refers to economic and cultural leaders and the functionaries of influential associations and organizations (cf. Hoffmann-Lan­ge 1990: 11-14, 21f.). We will select the elite members in eight European cities in four countries, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden. These are the same four countries that are also involved in the ‘Pathways to Success’ project. 
The ELITES proposal will answer research questions on two main topics.

1. Elite Formation: We will analyze differences in the processes, mechanisms and used resources for elite formation across the two groups and between men and women across the eight cities. We will look at the importance of the local and national context and the importance of the (historically rooted) interaction between majority and minority groups and mechanisms within the Turkish community to explain differences in elite formation across the eight cities in the four countries. Is also important to investigate how majority group elites react to the new elite members and if this differs across countries. This will also be part of our research among elite members of native parentage.

2. Networks of Elite Members: We want to assess how the second generation elite is using its acquired knowledge and contacts to take up leadership positions in their respective communities and or within the wider society. For this topic we will look at the network contacts and memberships of organizations of elite members.

The ELITES project will be executed in eight research sites: Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Malmö, Paris, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Strasbourg. We chose eight cities in four countries that are very different in terms of integration regimes and have different relative shares in successful second generation Turkish youth. We chose two cities in each country to be able to distinguish between a city and a country difference. We choose these eight particular cities in the four countries because these are the cities with the largest Turkish communities in these countries. 

The Turkish second generation is the main comparison group in the ELITES project. The Turkish community is, with about four million people, the largest and most spread out immigrant community in Europe. We are aware that the Turkish communities are not similar across the investigated eight European cities. Therefore we will only select elite members of lower class background of ethnically Turkish immigrants. This excludes elite members of Kurdish origin or from highly educated Turkish political refugees. We choose for this restricted Turkish second generation group because it will make it easier to identify differences in outcomes across cities. The target groups of Turkish descent all will have the same starting position (being born in Europe from low educated parents) and they all belong to the same ethnic group. The heterogeneity of the Turkish community could however very well become visible when we collect information about the network and organization contacts of our primary Turkish respondents. This diversity between cities will be part of our analysis.

Subproject 3 (Senior and Post-doc project): Elites and their networks. Second generation Turkish elites and elites of lower class native parentage compared in eight European cities.

The political scientist Dr. Floris Vermeulen will lead the ELITES network project part. With this project we want to gain insight into the characteristics of the elite networks. We will collect information of network contacts and organizational memberships of the primary respondents of subproject 1 and 2 and collect the same information of people who are crucial in the network of the primary respondent. Relevant network characteristics to be studied will be the ‘degree’ (i.e. the number of alters directly connected to the primary respondent); the ‘closeness’ (i.e. the distance between primary respondents and alters), the ‘between-ness’ (i.e. the centrality of a particular point in relation to other points in the network), and the ‘diversity of contacts’ to be captured in the ‘Index of Qualitative Variation’ (IQV)). With these four types of measurements we can investigate different types of networks. Networks that provide bridging relationships and networks that provide bonding relationships. This is crucial to identify the degree to which the elite is taking a leading role in different social settings at the meso level of communities and groups (horizontal) and on the macro level in cities and society at large (vertical).

The resulting large number of identified members in networks and organizations both from ego’s and alter’s contacts (up to 1800 per city) will enable us to perform quantitative network analyses. With this strategy we will cover networks of people and organizations of the same ethnic group as well as organizations or networks with members with other ethnic backgrounds.
In total we will collect 240 in-depth interviews; information about 240 ego-networks with in total up to 2400 ego contacts in the eight cities. Additionally we will collect information from 1200 alter-networks.


In the international ELITES Project we study the most successful group in society: those already holding an elite position. We compare members of this group in Sweden, Germany, France and The Netherlands. We are particularly interested in those who by family origin were not yet part of the elite, either because of their working class background or because their parents were immigrants. We will document their pathways to success and learn about how they influence and reshape today’s society.Through the international comparison we will shed light on whether countries offer different opportunities for new elite, and whether the established elite is equally receptive to the new elite members in different countries. We will compare people of the business elite, the elite in the education sector and in the law sector across countries.

Europe’s large cities have become increasingly diverse. In most big cities almost half of the young population has a migration background. While many studies have focused on those ‘at the bottom’ in this group, the spotlight on the successful among the children of immigrants has been limited so far. The ELITES project broadens our perspective by focussing on the growing socio-economic, cultural and political elites among the second generation. The first lawyers are entering prestigious law firms, young doctors make their way into hospitals to become surgeons, and policy makers are entering the city administration at the highest levels. How do they make their way into leadership positions? Are they accepted by the traditional elite groups? In other words, how does the fascinating process of ‘remaking the mainstream’ (Alba and Nee 2003) come about? And is the process different across European cities?