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Pluralism

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Francesca Williams

on 5 October 2012

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Transcript of Pluralism

Pluralist theory
of
power Power is exercised by the mass of the population, rather than by a small elite group

It is widely dispersed rather than concentrated into the hands of the few This conclusion is derived from two main arguments:

1. First, pluralists note that if a majority of people do not like what their representatives are doing, they can vote them out of office at the next election.
Representatives, therefore, have to act in a way that is pleasing to the majority. Secondly, pluralists claim that people are able to exercise power between elections by joining interest groups - such as political parties, trade unions and other pressure groups. Over time, sociologists have realised the flaws in Classical Pluralism; even Dahl himself conceded that the unequal distribution of wealth in the UK (for example) makes equality and plurality in politics impossible. It was as a result of these criticisms that David Marsh (1985) created the theory of Elite pluralism. Elite pluralists agree with classical pluralists that there is “plurality” of power, however this plurality is not “pure” as some people and groups have more power than others. For example,some people have more money than others, so they can pay to have their opinion put across better (i.e. more advertising) than the working class can. This inequality is because society has “elites”; people who have more power, perhaps through money, inheritance or social tradition than others. Elite pluralism provides some answers to criticisms of classical pluralism,
especially the main criticism, by acknowledging that the elite often have more power

- Is it really ”pluralist” if it says there are elites and inequality Strengths and Weaknesses According to the pluralist model, the state acts impartially - responding to the demands of different popular pressures.

No single group can possibly dominate in society since, for every force exerted by one group, there is an equal and opposite force exerted by other groups. Pluralists argue that such a system is healthy because it encourages political participation, it ensures that people can exert influence over decision makers, it ensures that power is dispersed rather than concentrated into the hands of a few and, at the same time, it allows the view of minority groups to be voiced.
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