According to Pareto social change is brought about by the struggles between groups for political power, and there are alternating periods of harsh rule by a vigorous and newly triumphant elite and mild, humanitarian rule by a declining elite. His theory is popularly known as ‘circulation of elite.’

The theory rests upon the assertion of biological differences between groups within society, and is supported by little historical evidence. Pareto seriously investigates only one instance of circulation of elite (in ancient Rome), and his conception of political changes wholly ignores the growth of democratic governments in modem times.