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An old boy network (also known as old boys' network, ol' boys' club, old boys' club, old boys' society, good ol' boys club, or good ol' boys system) is an informal system in which wealthy men with similar social or educational background help each other in business or personal matters. The term originally referred to social and business connections among former pupils of male-only elite schools, though the term is now also used to refer to any closed system of relationships that restrict opportunities to within the group. The term originated from much of the British upper-class having attended certain fee-charging public schools as boys, thus former pupils are "
old boys The terms Old Boys and Old Girls are the usual expressions in use in the United Kingdom for former pupils of primary school, primary and secondary schools.''Oxford English Dictionary'' While these are traditionally associated with Independent Sc ...
". This can apply to the network between the graduates of a single school regardless of their gender. It is also known as an ''old boys' society'' and is similar to an
alumni association An alumni association or alumnae association is an association of graduates or, more broadly, of former students (alumnus, alumni). In the United Kingdom and the United States, alumni of university, universities, colleges, schools (especially i ...
. It can also mean a network of social and business connections among the alumni of various prestigious schools. In popular language, ''old boy network'' or ''old boys' society'' has come to be used in reference to the preservation of social elites in general; such connections within the
British Civil Service His Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as His Majesty's Civil Service, the Home Civil Service, or colloquially as the Civil Service is the permanent bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () refers to a body of non-elected governing officia ...
formed a primary theme in the
British Broadcasting Corporation #REDIRECT BBC #REDIRECT BBC Here i going to introduce about the best teacher of my life b BALAJI sir. He is the precious gift that I got befor 2yrs . How has helped and thought all the concept and made my success in the 10th board exam. ...
...
's satirical comedy series ''
Yes Minister ''Yes Minister'' is a British political satire Political satire is satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where Political discourse analysis, political speech and dissent ...
''. The phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is associated with this tradition.


Australia

In Australia, the term "Old Boy" is used to describe a male alumnus of some prestigious state and private schools. The term "Old Girl" is similarly used for a female alumna of such schools. Both "Old Girl" and "Old Boy" are sometimes used as a reference to someone's parents.


Canada

The term is also used in Canada, where the alumni of such schools as St. Andrew's College,
Trinity College School Trinity College School (TCS) is a co-educational, Independent school, independent Boarding school, boarding and day school located in Port Hope, Ontario, Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. TCS was founded on May 1, 1865, more than two years bef ...
, Crescent School, St George's School,
Vancouver College Vancouver College (abbreviated informally to VC) is an independent university-preparatory Catholic school for boys located in the Shaughnessy, Vancouver, Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1922, it is the ...
, Stratford Hall, Bishop's College School,
Hillfield Strathallan College Hillfield Strathallan College is an independent, co-educational day school in Hamilton, Ontario, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The academic program runs from Montessori Toddler and Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. The current Head of College is Marc A ...
, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Lower Canada College, and
Upper Canada College Upper Canada College (UCC) is an elite, all-boys, private school Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private", by Dusty Springfield from the 1990 album ''Reputation'' * Private (band), a Denmark-based band * Private (Ryōko Hirosue ...
are known as Old Boys. Other influential private schools with powerful alumni networks may have become co-ed, such as
Appleby College Appleby College, a leading Canadian day and boarding school, is an international independent school (grades 7–12) located in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, founded in 1911 by John Guest, a former Headmaster of the Preparatory School at Upper Canada ...
or University of Toronto Schools, but operate similarly in which large numbers of alumni all work for the same organization.


Finland

In
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia Russia (, , ), or the Ru ...
, the Finnish term hyvä veli -verkosto (literally ''dear brother network'') is used to refer to the alleged informal network of men in high places whose members use their influence to pervert or circumvent official decision-making processes to the members' mutual benefit. As such, the term is pejorative. The term derives from the salutation "Hyvä veli!", or "Dear brother!", traditionally used to open a letter to a not quite intimate friend. The implication is that since the elites of all fields are drawn from a fairly small pool of people who are mostly more or less acquainted with each other, they can and often do manage public and private affairs amongst themselves, off the record, and outside public scrutiny as they like. As the word "brother" implies, the network is usually presumed to be consisting of males, and thus the term is also sometimes used to refer to the
marginalization Social exclusion or social marginalisation is the social disadvantage and relegation to the fringe of society. It is a term that has been used widely in Europe and was first used in France in the late 20th century. It is used across discipline ...
of women and their exclusion from high positions in both the public and private spheres. There is an equivalent term, ''hyvä sisko'' ("dear sister"), used in reference to informal networks of women in high positions. President
Urho Kekkonen Urho Kaleva Kekkonen (; 3 September 1900 – 31 August 1986), often referred to by his initials UKK, was a Finnish politician who served as the eighth and longest-serving president of Finland from 1956 to 1982. He also served as Prime Minister ...
was notable for directly communicating with senior officials (past his cabinets) by means of letters, which famously began with the salutation "Hyvä veli". These have been published in three volumes.


Hong Kong

The term can also refer to the networks that are set up in the more elite secondary schools, such as Diocesan Boys' School, Queen's College, Ying Wa College,
La Salle College La Salle College (LSC) (, Demonym A demonym (; ) or gentilic () is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place. Demonyms are usually derived from the name of the place (hamle ...
and Saint Joseph's College.


India

The Doon School The Doon School (informally Doon School or Doon) is a selective all-boys boarding school in Dehradun Dehradun () is the capital and the List of cities in Uttarakhand by population, most populous city of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It ...
maintains its own old boys' society (The Doon School Old Boys' Society) for social connections and fundraising on behalf of the School. Graduates of The Doon School are known as ''Doscos'', or simply, Old Boys. Former students of the Welham Boys School refer to their society as the Welham Old Boys Society. Though the school was founded in 1937, the society was not founded until 1983. The group is intended to encourage Welham graduates to aid in the school's success through their union; they have established scholarships and bursaries for deserving students. The Welham Old Boys Network has established definite membership criteria, as well as requiring a subscription fee. Former pupils of Bishop Cotton School are referred to as Old Cottonians. The Old Cottonians Association was started in 1910 when 17 Old Cottonians assembled in the Freemason's Hall in
Shimla Shimla (; ; also known as Simla, List of renamed Indian cities and states#Himachal Pradesh, the official name until 1972) is the capital and the largest city of the States and union territories of India, northern Indian state of Himachal Prade ...
. The Old Cottonians Association is spread all over the world. Similarly, the Old Boys of Sainik School Rewa in Madhya Pradesh call their Old Boys Association as "Sainwinians".
Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh Muslim University (abbreviated as AMU) is a Public University, public Central University (India), central university in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, which was originally established by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as the Muhammadan Anglo-Orie ...
Alumni had established AMU alumni associations all over India and elsewhere. Some of the other schools to use the term are
La Martiniere Calcutta ''La Martiniere ''(informally known as LMC) is an elite, independent Private school, private day school located in Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal. It comprises two single-gender boys and girls schools. It was established in 1836 in accordance wi ...
, La Martinière College Lucknow,
Mayo College Mayo College (informally Mayo) is a boys-only independent boarding school in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. It was founded in 1875 by Richard Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo, who was the Viceroy of India from 1869 to 1872. This makes it one of the oldest Pub ...
, Mayo College Girls School, St. Paul's School Darjeeling, St. Edward's School Shimla, The Lawrence School Sanawar, Bishop Cotton Boys' School.


New Zealand

In New Zealand, many schools maintain old boys/girls/students associations, but the term "old boy network" is typically used in reference to the elite public and private secondary schools such as Auckland Grammar School, King's College, Sacred Heart College, Christ's College and Scots College


Switzerland

In Switzerland, the term can be used for the networks set up by the alumni organizations of private boarding schools such as
Institut Le Rosey Institut Le Rosey (), commonly referred to as Le Rosey or simply Rosey, is a private boarding school A boarding school is a school where pupils live within premises while being given formal instruction. The word "boarding" is used in the ...
, Aiglon College, College Alpin International Beau Soleil, and College du Leman. These elite Swiss private schools are considered to have among the most prestigious alumni registries, with Switzerland having the highest private school fees in the world; these institutions attract the children of royalty, celebrities, political leaders and business executives. Strong old boys/girls network also exist in private universities, notably École hôtelière de Lausanne and Les Roches International School of Hotel Management.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the "old boy network" is seen as existing primarily among those educated at the fee-paying independent schools ( public schools) of the
Eton Group The Eton Group is an association of 12 English public schools within the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The Eton Group schools often cooperate with each other, organising events and school matches. For example, the Heads of academi ...
and the
Rugby Group The Rugby Group is a group of 18 British public school (UK), public schools. The group was formed in the 1960s as an association of major boarding schools within the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. As with the Eton Group, which was ...
including, but not limited to,
Charterhouse School Charterhouse is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Godalming, Surrey, England. Originally founded by Thomas Sutton in 1611 on the si ...
,
Eton College Eton College () is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school in Eton, Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1440 by Henry VI of England, Henry VI under the name ''Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore'',Nevill, p. 3 ff. i ...
,
Harrow School Harrow School () is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for boys) in Harrow on the Hill, Greater London, England. The school was founded in 1572 by John Lyon (sc ...
,
Oundle School Oundle School is a public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent Day school, day and boarding school) for pupils 11–18 situated in the market town of Oundle in Northamptonshire, England ...
,
Radley College Radley College, formally St Peter's College, Radley, is a Public school (UK), public school (independent boarding school for boys) near Radley, Oxfordshire, England, which was founded in 1847. The school covers including playing fields, a golf ...
,
Rugby School Rugby School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Rugby, Warwickshire, Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free ...
,
Sherborne School Sherborne School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for boys) located beside Sherborne Abbey, in the parish of Sherborne, Dorset. The school has been in c ...
,
Shrewsbury School Shrewsbury School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent boarding school for pupils aged 13 –18) in Shrewsbury. Founded in 1552 by Edward VI by Royal Charter, it was orig ...
,
Stowe School Stowe School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent Day school, day and boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, Stowe, England. It opened on 11 May 1 ...
, Wellington College,
Westminster School Westminster School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school in Westminster, London, England, in the precincts of Westminster Abbey. It derives from a charity school founded by Westminster Benedictines before the 1066 Norman Conquest, as d ...
and
Winchester College Winchester College is a public school (fee-charging independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsy ...
, as well as at the colleges of
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cam ...
, although to some extent such networks exist for all institutions producing large numbers of "old boys" and girls. The existence of "old boy" networks is often blamed for the high proportion of former pupils of high-status schools and universities in high-status positions in government, business, and other professions. For instance, between them, Harrow and Eton have 26 British
prime ministers A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive Executive ( exe., exec., execu.) may refer to: Role or title * Executive, a senior management Senior management, ...
among their old boys. In practice, attendance at certain educational institutions is typical of the British "
ruling class In sociology, the ruling class of a society is the social class who set and decide the political and economic agenda of society. In Marxist philosophy, the ruling class are the capitalist social class who own the means of production and by exten ...
" and
upper middle class In sociology, the upper middle class is the social group constituted by higher status members of the middle class. This is in contrast to the term ''lower middle class'', which is used for the group at the opposite end of the middle-class strat ...
, and where
nepotism Nepotism is an In-group favoritism, advantage, privilege, or position that is granted to Kinship, relatives and friends in an occupation or field. These fields may include but are not limited to, business, politics, academia, entertainment, s ...
exists it may be driven more often by personal relationships than by educational networks. An organisation called Future First promotes the use of such networks among those educated at state schools.


United States

In the United States, the "Old Boys Network" is a term more focused on the inside track with connections to powerful and ambitious individuals formed through work, professional and community service organizations, and private clubs. However, the original term of being associated with education has sometimes also been used in this context.(Quoting Brief Amicus Curiae of the National Organization for Women et al. in Support of Reversal, Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984) (No. 83-724), 1984 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 226, at p. 19).


See also

* Affirmative action *
Alumni association An alumni association or alumnae association is an association of graduates or, more broadly, of former students (alumnus, alumni). In the United Kingdom and the United States, alumni of university, universities, colleges, schools (especially i ...
* Association of Representatives of Old Pupils Societies in the UK * Blat (favors) * Collective narcissism *
Cronyism Cronyism is the spoils system practice of Impartiality, partiality in awarding jobs and other advantages to friends or trusted colleagues, especially in politics and between politicians and supportive organizations. For example, cronyism occurs ...
*
Guanxi ''Guanxi'' () is a term used in Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse ...
* In-group bias * Jeon-gwan ye-u * Legacy preferences * White shoe brigade


References

{{Reflist
Networks, Organisations and Men by Teemu Tallberg, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki
British culture Oxbridge Types of organization Society of Finland Alumni by educational institution