ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Political Entourage and the Construction of Leadership

Elections
Party Members
Qualitative
Adeline Denis
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)
Adeline Denis
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)

Abstract

Scholars who study political leaders have recently paid more attention to the various ways officials exercise power once elections are over. Drawing on this literature, our research focuses on the practical organization of politicians' activities within municipal institutions. Through an ethnography of several French and American municipalities, we examine how mayors and their surrogates perform politics, and in particular how they get helped in that task by their political staff – referred to in French as their “entourage”. Members of the entourage are : the city manager, the cabinet advisors, the executive directors, the public and private councillors, even sometimes the wives and husbands, ... We use the notion of entourage as an original point of entry to account for the close relations of dependency and accountability that are determinant in the exercise of any political mandate. This notion allows us to disentangle the power relationships and to see under which conditions power is shared or/and monopolized, is carried out by individuals or/and inscribed in institutional rules and routines, is capitalized on or/and lost. Doing so, we see to what extent the mayor's leadership is not a natural or a taken-for-granted fact but rather results from an invisible and daily work by some backstage individuals. In particular, the members of the cabinet play a crucial role in building a shroud of charisma around the mayor : those followers can be viewed as “entrepreneurs of legitimacy”. We would like to make the claim for both a structural and relational approach to power and leadership. Relying on three comprehensive case studies, and attentive to their similarities and variations, we will paint differentiated pictures of the mayoral leadership's arrangements and dynamics.