You are on page 1of 3

Classical pluralism Classical pluralism is the view that politics and decision making are located mostly in the

framework of government, but that many non-governmental groups use their resources to exert influence. The central question for classical pluralism is how power and influence is distributed in a political process. Groups of individuals try to maximize their interests. Lines of conflict are multiple and shifting as power is a continuous bargaining process between competing groups. There may be inequalities but they tend to be distributed and evened out by the various forms and distributions of resources throughout a population. Any change under this view will be slow and incremental, as groups have different interests and may act as "veto groups" to destroy legislation that they do not agree with. The existence of diverse and competing interests is the basis for a democratic equilibrium[1], and is crucial for the obtaining of goals by individuals. A polyarchy - a situation of open competition for electoral support within a significant part of the adult population - ensures competition of group interests and relative equality. Pluralists stress civil rights, such as freedom of expression and organization, and an electoral system with at least two parties. On the other hand, since the participants in this process constitute only a tiny fraction of the populace, the public acts mainly as bystanders. This is not necessarily undesirable for two reasons: (1) it may be representative of a population content with the political happenings, or (2) political issues require continuous and expert attention, which the average citizen does not have.[citation needed] Important theorists of pluralism are Robert A. Dahl, who wrote the seminal pluralist work, Who Governs?, and Pluralist conception of power Pluralists emphasize that power is not a physical entity that individuals either have or do not have, but flows from a variety of different sources. Rather, people are powerful because they control various resources. Resources are assets that can be used to force others to do what one wants. Politicians become powerful because they command resources that people want or fear or respect. The list of possibilities is virtually endless: legal authority, money, prestige, skill, knowledge, charisma, legitimacy, free time, experience, celebrity, and public support. Pluralists also stress the differences between potential and actual power as it stands. Actual power means the ability to compel someone to do something and is the view of power as a causation. Dahl describes power as a "realistic relationship, such as A's capacity for acting in such a manner as to control B's responses" [A preface to Democratic Theory]. Potential power refers to the possibility of turning resources into actual power. Cash, one of many resources, is only a stack of bills until it is put to work. Malcolm X, for example, was certainly not a rich person. But by using resources such as his forceful personality, organizational skills, and especially the legitimacy of his cause, he had a greater impact on American politics than most wealthy people. A particular resource like money cannot automatically be equated with power because the resource can be used skillfully or clumsily, fully or partially, or not at all. The pluralist approach to the study of power, states that nothing categorical about power can be assumed in any community. The question then is not who runs a community, but if any group in fact does. To determine this, pluralists study specific outcomes. The reason for this is that they believe human behavior is governed in large part by inertia. That said, actual involvement in overt activity is a more valid marker of leadership than simply a reputation. Pluralists also believe that there is no one particular issue or point in time at which any group must assert itself to stay true to its own expressed values, but rather that there are a variety of issues and points at which this is possible. There are also costs involved in taking action at allnot only losing, but expenditure of time and effort. While a structuralist may argue that power distributions have a rather permanent nature, this rationale says that power may in fact be tied to issues, which vary widely in duration. Also, instead of focusing on actors within a system, the emphasis is on the leadership roles itself. By studying these, it can be determined to what extent there is a power structure present in a society. Three of the major tenets of the pluralist school are (1) resources and hence potential power are widely scattered throughout society; (2) at least some resources are available to nearly everyone; and (3) at any time the amount of potential power exceeds the amount of actual power.

Finally, and perhaps most important, no one is all-powerful unless proven so through empirical observation. An individual or group that is influential in one realm may be weak in another. Large military contractors certainly throw their weight around on defense matters, but how much sway do they have on agricultural or health policies? A measure of power, therefore, is its scope, or the range of areas where it is successfully applied as observed by a researcher. Pluralists believe that with few exceptions power holders usually have a relatively limited scope of influence. Pluralism does leave room for an elitist situation- Should a group A continuously exert power over multiple groups. For a pluralist to accept this notion, it must be empirically observed and not assumed so by definition. For all these reasons power cannot be taken for granted. One has to observe it empirically in order to know who really governs. The best way to do this, pluralists believe, is to examine a wide range of specific decisions, noting who took which side and who ultimately won and lost. Only by keeping score on a variety of controversies can one begin to identify actual power holders. Pluralism was associated with behavioralism[2] A contradiction to pluralist power is often cited from the origin of one's power. Although certain groups may share power, people within those groups set agendas, decide issues, and take on leadership roles through their own qualities. Some theorists argue that these qualities cannot be transferred, thus creating a system where elitism still exists. What this theory fails to take into account is the prospect of overcoming these qualities by garnering support from other groups. By aggregating power with other organizations, interest groups can over-power these nontransferable qualities. In this sense, political pluralism still applies to these aspects.

Elite theory From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search In political science and sociology, elite theory is a theory of the state which seeks to describe and explain the power relationships in contemporary society. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power and that this power is independent of a state's democratic elections process. Through positions in corporations or on corporate boards, and influence over the policy-planning networks through financial support of foundations or positions with think tanks or policy-discussion groups, members of the "elite" are able to exert significant power over the policy decisions of corporations and governments. A recent example of this can be found in the Forbes Magazine article [1] (published in December 2009) entitled The World's Most Powerful People, in which Forbes purported to list the 67 most powerful people in the world (assigning 1 "slot" for each 100,000,000 of human population). Elite theory stands in opposition to pluralism in suggesting that democracy is a utopian ideal. It also stands in opposition to state autonomy theory.

Classical Elite theory The aristocratic version of this theory is the Classic Elite Theory which is based on two ideas: 1. 2. power lies in position of authority in key economic and political institutions the psychological difference that sets Elites apart is that they have personal resources, for instance intelligence and skills, and a vested interest in the government; while the rest are incompetent and do not have the capabilities of governing themselves, the elite are resourceful and will strive to make the government to work. For in reality, the elite have the most to lose in a failed government.