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The concept of Elitelore refers generally to the accumulated knowledge, mythology, and tradition of leaders, from national figures to neighborhood caciques. Elitelore concerns leaders' self-perceptions of the past, the present, and the future. These perceptions are integrated into a life-history framework that is crucial to understanding how leaders participate in society. As elites construct a method of viewing the world, they begin to accept as truth many of their own assumptions and ideas; but seldom, even in writing autobiography, do they make explicit this life-history lore.

Elitelore is witnessed in simple speech traits and physical mannerisms, captured and tested in biographically oriented oral history, and reflected in the complex images of literature and film. Elitelore does not directly involve psychohistory's concern for unconscious influences on leaders although indirectly it can be useful to psychohistorical inquiry. Nor should Elitelore be confused with the concepts of "worldview" or "ideology."

Worldview is essentially a passive term, saying little about creation or impact of the outlook of leaders, and ideology generally refers to active programs of political action which involve party or group loyalty rather than individual rationales for life trajectory.

Elitelore's concern is not with the great men and famous events of the past eras of scholarship. The elites considered by the scholars in the essays that make up this volume are neither necessarily governing elites nor males.

Indeed, Elitelore's components include Popularlore (short-term lore about non-elites), Celebritylore (short-term lore by and about celebrities), as well as Folklore (lore about the folk/masses) which stands the test of time and remains relevant (and often enhanced and/or garbled) as it is passed from one generation to the next.

Just as the folk have their lore, the elite have their lore. The difference is that the elite also know the lore of the folk but the elite do not circulate most of their lore (by unspoken “rule”, Elitelore is secretive) in order to maintain their power, and indeed involves the “invention” of Folklore, Celebritylore, and Cinemalore. See Elitelore Book 3 at http://elitelore.org/book3.html

Nor have the persons discussed in this volume been exclusively involved in events with a national or international relevance. What emerges in these studies is a set of common themes involving how elites at any level in complex social hierarchies act, justify their actions, relate to other elites, court followers, and influence society. Focus is often on Strategic Elites, for example, all senators are elites but they are led by a Strategic Elite within their Senate.

As the Elitelore field developed over time, it moved from a focus on the exegesis of materials in a number of Elitelore genres (literature, film, opera), toward a more explicit focus on the mechanisms by which Elitelore is created and transmitted in society.

Copyright © 1996 and 2012 by Elitelore World and UCLA