For an increasing proportion of the United Kingdom population, protests and direct action have now replaced voting as a way of achieving political goals.
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Assess the view that, for an increasing proportion of the United Kingdom population, protests and direct action have now replaced voting as a way of achieving political goals. It is believed that for an increasing proportion of the United Kingdom population that protests and direct action have now replaced voting as a way of achieving political goals. However how true is this? During the 1950s, it seemed like there was a degree of political consensus. Functionalist argued that class struggle was on the decline and that the worst excesses of capitalism had been overcome by the mixed economy and the welfare state. Classical pluralism is a theory of political power that claims that in western democracies power is dispersed amongst many competing groups. Pluralists argue that Power is diffuse rather than concentrated and that in society a large number of groups represent all the significant and different interests of the population. These groups compete with each other for influence over government. All these groups accept the legitimacy of the decision making process and of its outcome, and the competition between groups ensures that no one group dominates. This classical pluralist position is no longer regarded as an accurate description of the distribution of power in contemporary liberal democracies.
The study reflected the pluralists' preference for the study of specific issues and concrete decisions. Polsby (1963), who argued that sociologists should study specific issues in order to determine who gets their own way, echoes this conclusion. However a clear problem with this approach is that it is only examining the public face of decision-making. A group may also exercise power through its ability to prevent a policy option being considered - a process often called 'agenda setting'. This preventative option is the second dimension of power and is frequently called non-decision-making. Luke criticise the pluralist theory for being to 1 dimensional. The second face of power is managing the agenda and critics of the pluralist view argue that simply studying decision-making ignores a second dimension of power - the ability to control the agenda. Luke's third face of power is manipulating the views of others. He argues that although the second view of power represents a step forward, it still ignores a third dimension. This view sees power as the ability to shape the wishes and desires of others. Quite recently there has been the development of pressure groups, these groups seek to put pressure on decision makers in order to favour their views on policy issues.
Although less people tend to be voting there are many reason for this especially in the post-modern society we live in. Many people can no longer be bothered to vote and would rather just get on with their lives. People may also no-longer feel the need to vote as both parties are so much alike as even the left-wing party is now moving to the right. People join pressure groups in the hope to change a certain aspect of society that they don't like or if it's just to get better treatment of money at work. There's a pressure group for everyone and on almost ever issue and with the development of the Internet finding and joining one has never been easier. Voting seems to be a very poor way of getting what you want and the government doesn't always listen anyway, or according to Luke they pretend to listen when infact there mind is already made up. Pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Trade Unions seem to get results if it's in preventing pollution or just getting extra money or more holidays at work. However is protesting and direct action really the best method of getting what you want, sure it gets results but if the state has already decided what's it going to do?
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