Why study government elites? Because the decisions of the great and the good affect all our lives for good or ill. We want to know what ministers, bureaucrats and managers do, why, how, and with what consequences. In other words, we are interested in their reasons, their actions and the effects of both. To understand their reasons we need a political anthropology of government elites.Observing Government Elites studies top-level political office-holders, civil servants and public managers in different countries and the European Union. It describes their world through their eyes, focusing on beliefs and everyday practices. It analyses how such practices are embedded in political-administrative traditions; in webs of institutional rules, routines, rituals, and relations. It explores how their beliefs, practices and traditions create meaning in politics, policy making and public service delivery and it reflects critically on how to do this kind of field work; on being up close and personal. By being there and getting up close to elites in ways that social scientists hardly ever do, the authors provide unique insights into the everyday life of ministers and senior public servants.

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