• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the elitist and pluralist accounts of political power

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the elitist and pluralist accounts of political power Robert Dahl in 1957 formalised a definition of power to be 'the ability of A to get B to do something which B would not otherwise do'. In the political sense we may think of power as the right of some person or institution to make important public decisions affecting the state or community as a whole. John Kingdom. Government Politics in Britain an Introduction (Cambridge: Policy Press, 1992), 6-7. In this essay I will look in some detail at two contrasting theories of political systems, namely pluralism and elitism, in order to come to some conclusion about the relative power citizens with regards to their ability to influence public policy. I will begin by providing a brief overview of these two accounts of power and then move on to talk about the similarities and differences with regards to who exercises power, how feasible entry into the political system is and how democratic each of the two systems appears to be. Finally I will conclude by looking at the application of these theories to the western world and evaluate their portrayal of political power. The roots of pluralism can be traced back to the 18th century when the French philosopher Motesqview put forward an early notion of political pluralism. ...read more.

Middle

However between elections the ruling elite will have greater opportunity to dominate the political resources and hence exercise greater powers. Similarly both elitists and pluralist provide different accounts of how political power is distributed through society. Pluralists would argue that power is in fact dispersed through society between groups of individuals who in tern have the ability to affect the policy decisions. This is not to say that power is divided equally between interest groups. Indeed some groups will be larger, be better organised and have greater access to 'policy-making' circles and so in effect exercise more power than others. Barrie Axford et all, Politics an Introduction, 417. The key idea here is that there are multiple sources of power. In contrast elite theorists would state that in practice power will inevitably 'fall into the hands of a few'. They see political resources as being dominated by a minority through their skilful utilisation. A study by C Wright Mills in the 1950s would appear to strengthen this argument since he concluded that critical political decisions in America were being made at that time by a 'power elite'. John Kindom. Government Politics in Britain an Introduction, 431. The relative sharing of power within a pluralistic system emphasises the role of interest groups in shaping policy. ...read more.

Conclusion

GIP Introduction to Comparative Politics. Indeed it could be argued that representatives of interest groups are elites themselves and on that basis will prefer to deal with other elites. John Esberey; Larry Johnston, Democracy and the state ( Ontario: Broadview press ltd, 1994 ), 193. In this way we may think, as Schumpeter did, that democracy can still exist in the form of 'democratic elitism' where elites are required to compete for the popular vote of the masses. Barrie Axford; Gary K, Browning, Politics an Introduction, 119. This would seam a more reasonable theory in societies like the UK and US where evidently there are strong factions between groups of elites themselves. It could be argued that the expansion in ICT over the last decade or could in the future facilitate direct democracy although in today's would it would seam that on balance the elite account of power seams more realistic. That is not to say that elitism is provides all the answers. In the US it is difficult to identify a single elite that is able to dominate all of government and in the case of the UK there would seam to be little coherence between groups of elites themselves. Providing that elected elites are accountable to the masses and are elected regularly then it would seam the elitist account of political power can be democratic. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Pluralism in domestic politics

    Good support for this statement would be a quote from Barack Husein Obama's victory speech. He said "If there is anyone out there who still doubts, that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is still alive in our

  2. Free essay

    Reforms of Turkey under Mustafa Ataturk, with regards to the revelutions from above

    Finally, for Ataturk all threats that stood in his path had been eliminated and he came out looking like a strong leader, and consequently his much deliberated actions he established a strong foundation whereby he could implement his policies that would drive towards secularization.

  1. Malta at the turn of the 19th Century.

    When Pigot and Ball left Malta we had the talks between France and Britain about Malta. The new civil commissioner Charles Cameron could only act in agreement with Malta. The Maltese took this as a sign that Britain wanted Malta.

  2. Politics A: Analysing Theories of the State and Individual - Evaluation of Pluralism.

    He argued that all political systems really consist of, is a number of separate groups competing with one another to influence policy. The role of the government was that of a political broker, responding to demands and influence of different groups and distributing policies in response.

  1. The basic concepts of a Liberal Democratic Theory of the State by describing the ...

    When deciding who to vote for, a voter may have many options. The Media can be very influential in helping to choose as they have the right to Free Press and can publish/broadcast anything which is found to be true about either a political party or of its members.

  2. Comparative Analysis: The churches and their affect on society and politics in the cases ...

    When it came to the Faith Community Hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) this became evident. Some churches saw reconciliation as a coming together while some churches saw reconciliation as redressing the situation of economic imbalance through reparations.

  1. Russia - political past, present and future

    The Duma's principal decisions are made by the Duma Council containing a single member from each party present in the Duma. The parties are voted to Duma directly by the public through popular elections. The Council's main purpose it to create legislative agenda and overcome collisions that often occur between parties in Duma.

  2. How has the role and impact of military rulers and civilian politicians differed in ...

    The most extensive PR exercise during the Ayub Khan regime was the 1965 Indo-Pak war. It is often believed that Pakistan won the battle of 1965, but in fact contrary to what is taught in school text books, Pakistan did not win the war; neither was it India who started it.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work