University and the Formation of Greek Elites: Past and Present

Panagiotis G Kimourtzis, Pantelis Kyprianos


This article analyzes the history of university studies in relation with the establishment of the Greek elites from the mid-19th century until today, based on primary and secondary sources and on available statistical data. Particular attention is given to studies at universities abroad and to students’ pathways. By examining the prominent position of the elites among students abroad we pose the question to what extent there has been a pattern change since the past. We highlight that the possession of a degree adds power to one’s personal course, especially in two periods (early 1860s until mid-1890s, end of 1950s until mid-1980s). A common feature of these periods is the upward structural social mobility. During the first and especially the second period, shortages in certain professions, along with state expansion, led to the increase in demand for degrees, aside from immediate graduate absorption. The article also ascertains that lately a «reservoir» with a significant number of foreign studied Greeks has «accumulated» abroad. Though comparable with the case in other European countries, this becomes noteworthy when taking into account the relatively smaller Greek population. This mobility concerned a reasoned economic choice, together with being attributed to the social value attached to education. Simultaneously, it was linked to the expectation of global quality education, acquisition of a personal cultural experience, along with improved credentials that create better professional prospects and high income. Nonetheless, in the case of certain groups, this mobility was governed by the spirit of a family tradition and the reproduction of social and cultural capital.


elites; State; social mobility; higher education; students abroad

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