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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  16 reviews
For centuries, oligarchs were viewed as empowered by wealth, an idea muddled by elite theory early in the twentieth century. The common thread for oligarchs across history is that wealth defines them, empowers them, and inherently exposes them to threats. The existential motive of all oligarchs is wealth defense. How they respond varies with the threats they confront, incl ...more
Paperback, 323 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by Cambridge University Press (first published May 4th 2011)
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4.24  · 
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 ·  84 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yes, it's a tired phrase that you can't tell a book by its cover, but this work is a perfect example. Look at the plain dark brown cover with nothing but the title and the author's name on it. A typical textbook would look exciting by comparison. It's likely this book IS used as a textbook, yet inside lurks eye-opening information on that teeny tiny percentage of the population that has tremendous wealth and wants above all to protect it. How do they do it?

It's always been the case the the many
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very clarifying book about what distinguishes oligarchs from other sorts of elites — in a nutshell: concentrated efforts to protect their wealth. Which then follows with a carefully delineated typology of different sorts of oligarchies, based how much their authority structures are institutionalized versus personalistic, and how much the oligarchs rely on personal militias. The only curiosity in the book is that despite going through many examples of different sorts of oligarchies, from mediev ...more
Maru Kun
Oct 15, 2017 marked it as to-read
Very interesting review of this book here: How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Despite all the confusion, oligarchy is – and oligarchs are – extremely important for understanding politics, whether ancient or contemporary, poor or advanced-industrial. The main problem is that the concept has defied clear definition. The solution lies in defining oligarchs and oligarchy in a manner that is precise, consistent, and yet still provides an analytical framework that is broad enough to be theoretically meaningful across a range of cases. “Rule by the few” simply will not do.

Gde Dwitya
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Winters’ Oligarchy is a book elaborating a theory of how extremely concentrated wealth at the hand of powerful minority induces extreme political inequality. By doing so, he clarifies the oligarchy theory that has been muddled by the elite theory. He claims that not all powerful minorities are oligarchic in nature. Only those that are materially endowed as their source of power can be called oligarchs and their politics of wealth defense is what oligarchy is all about. The definition of oligarch ...more
Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not sure his distinction between those who have enough wealth to engage in wealth defense and those who do not stands up. There are plenty of people who he does not seem to be counting as oligarchs who hire financial professionals to ensure they pay the minimum amount of taxes possible. The difference between the 5%ers with their stock brokers and accountants and the ultra-rich .1% with their high-powered teams of tax evasion experts seems to be one of degree, not the qualitative difference ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very dense (and occasionally dry) but interesting book that seeks to conceptualize and categorize "oligarchy." He divides oligarchy into four types--warring, sultanistic, and civil--and provides examples of each. With regard to civil oligarchies, he stresses the point that oligarchy and democracy are not mutually exclusive--they only become so when democratic participation "challenges material stratification specifically." This point is useful when conceptualizing oligarchy as something that t ...more
Sang Agung
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What is the main locomotive of politics? For liberals, it is the tension in the social contract between the sovereign and the constituents. For Marxists, it is the struggle in defining relations of production between the proles and the bourg. In this book, Winters offer a new lens to see politics and history through: the struggle of the oligarchy in the defense of their material wealth.

In emphasizing the ownership of the means of production, Marx’s theory of the capitalist bourgeoisie focuses on
Brian Peterson
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Gave me a new perspective on ancient and modern history. Changed how I view and understand the Roman Republic and Empire, and the modern history of the US income tax law. Keeps a clear focus on the topic of oligarchic theory and its fundamental points, along with the insights gained with such an analysis.
Atif Taj
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author discusses four types of oligarchy: warring, ruling, sultanistic, civil. One thing that struck was oligarch will serve their own purpose regardless of what just society requires. The premium example is the income inequality during Roman Empire that is comparable to present times and in order to achieve the maximum wealth and income, violence is the key ingredient.
Rick Claypool
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic
Winters' analysis of the phenomena of oligarchy -- the stratum of the super wealthy who exist at the very top of the wealth scale and aim to keep it that way -- is insightful and compelling. If you are frustrated when you hear about the likes of Sheldon Adelson or Charles and David Koch pouring millions of dollars into distorting U.S. elections, this book provides a keen insight into why, as a class, oligarchs do it, and is rich with historical and global examples of how oligarchs achieve what t ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A very taught presentation of a basic sociology theory. According to Winters oligarchy is not just rule by the few, but rule by those who have material power, usually in the form of great wealth. The book details out all of the criteria for being an oligarch and then gives a bunch of historical cases that are divided into different types: warring, ruling, sultanistic, and civil oligarchies. Winters contends that the U.S. is a civil oligarch where politics is controlled by the wealthy who pay for ...more
buku ini saya baca secara diskriminatif. hanya baca serius bab 1 (elaborasi teoretis) dan bab tentang 'oligarki sultanistik' (Indonesia dan Filipina), sedangkan bab yang lain dibaca cepat.
sejak bagian teori, banyak isu yang patut dipermasalahkan. kenapa Winters mengambil 'putaran' ke 'teori oligarki' ketika dirinya menilai Marxist tidak memadai, padahal saya pikir neo-Marxist memiliki banyak persinggungan dengan apa yang 'dipikirkan' Winters.
saya pernah menulis critical review buku ini. tapi fi
"Jeffrey Winters’ Oligarchy is by a Northwestern University political scientist who specializes in Southeast Asia. Ranging from Indonesia to Ancient Rome to the contemporary United States, he explores the politics of the defense of wealth across time and space." - Tom Ginsburg
Joel Robbins
Jan 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Not finished but there seems to be a lot of redundancy so far.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Memberikan penjelasan teoritik kait kelindan antara uang dan kekuasaan sebagai penopang oligarki, termasuk terbentuknya oligarki di Indonesia
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Jeffrey Alan Winters is an American political scientist at Northwestern University, specialising in the study of oligarchy. He has written extensively on Indonesia and on oligarchy in the United States. His 2011 book Oligarchy was the 2012 winner of the American Political Science Association's Luebbert Award for the Best Book in Comparative politics.
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