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Evaluate the pluralist claim that power is distributed among competing interest groups in society.

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Introduction

Evaluate the pluralist claim that power is distributed among competing interests groups in society. Pluralism is a theory which claims to explain the nature and distribution of power within Western societies. According to Max Weber, the term power can ultimately be described as; 'The chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a communal action even against the resistance of others who are participating in this action'. Weber identified different types of authority claiming that there were three different sources. The first was charismatic authority; this type of authority is created by 'the devotion of subordinates for a leader who is thought to have exceptional values. Charismatic leaders are able to sway and control their followers by direct emotional appeals which excite devotion and strong loyalties. ...read more.

Middle

The second 'face' of power focuses on non-decision making, for example power may be used to prevent certain issues from being discussed, or decisions about them from being taken. So, individuals exercise power by preventing those making a decision to look at alternative sources of action. Similar to pluralists, Luke's third face of power focuses on desires; however Luke in his argument focuses on the 'shaping of desires'. Luke claims that power can be exercised by shaping desires, manipulating the wishes and desires of social groups. The pluralist argument takes two perspectives. The first and original ideas of pluralism are known as classical pluralism. The classical pluralist perspective on power has important aspects similar to Parsons functionalist perspective. ...read more.

Conclusion

Pluralists claim that 'competition for office between political parties provides the electorate with an opportunity to select its leaders and a means of influencing government policy'. Seymour M. Lipset states; ' for efficient government, competition between contenders for office must result in the granting of effective authority to one group, and the presence of an effective opposition as a way of evaluating the power of the governing party'. The second perspective of pluralism, a more modern perspective is known as Elite pluralism. Elite pluaralist ideas conflict with the classical pluralist idea in a number of ways; * They do not accept that all members of society have exactly the same amount of power. * They do not concentrate exclusively on the first face of power * They see elites, the leaders of groups as the main participants in decision making. ...read more.

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