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

Compare and contrast pluralist and ruling elite accounts of political power in the UK and US.

Extracts from this document...


Compare and contrast pluralist and ruling elite accounts of political power in the UK and US The UK and US are essentially both democratic societies in which government is passed by the people, however, they cannot be fully democratic political systems as this would have to be characterised with political equality, which is obviously not the case as both countries have clear leaders possessing the majority of power. The size of both countries prevents everyone from taking part in the government and instead, a representative is chosen to govern on behalf of the people. There is a difference in opinion about how this representative governs; some believe a pluralist approach is taken in which the government is responsive to a plurality of groups which represent a plurality of interests and control diverse political resources. Others are sceptical of this approach and think an elitist approach occurs in which a minority rules over the majority in its own interest. This means they govern in a way, which is rarely responsive to the common public. Some people argue that the UK and US have very different political systems and are therefore governed in different ways. ...read more.


All organisations, even if they aspire to be democratic, inevitably degenerate into oligarchy (rule by a few). Ruling elite refers to a minority which governs in its own interest and which is not accountable to the majority. It is defined by the possession of three characteristics: consciousness, coherence and conspiracy. Consciousness refers to the awareness of common interests, coherence means that it shares a common interest and conspiracy describes the capacity to act collectively. The UK can be described as being ruling elite due to one small government being in control and where power essentially lies with the Prime Minister. With parliamentary majority, the cabinet can make any decisions they want which was recently demonstrated with issue of the war in Iraq. Many pressure groups opposed and campaigned against Blair's decision to go to war, which in the end had no lasting effect as he made the decision regardless of many peoples opinions. The US can also be considered as an elitist country due the fact that a lot of money goes into US politics compared with the UK. This has resulted in the high campaigning costs, thus limiting who is able to run for election. ...read more.


In order to appeal to ordinary voters, ruling elites must serve the public and cannot imply follow their own interests. Pluralism is very similar in which many views are represented and served. Theories of polyarchy (democratic elitism) accept that most citizens do not take part in politics. Other theories of democratic elitism discuss the fact that there are elites within specific fields, for example in health and military, once again a plurality of elites. In conclusion it can be seen that the UK and US share many characteristics, which can be seen as being both pluralist and elitist. However the US is essentially more pluralist with dispersed points of access with fragmented state power. The government has sub-ordinates and sub-governments, which are very different to the UK where power is more concentrated with one person, the Prime Minister. There are many differences between the two theories; however, some similarities can be seen, linking the two. Dahl argued that most people are not interested in participating much in politics, thus only a small group of individuals is involved who have to compete to win elections by appealing for popular support. Schumpter and Dahl renamed the theory as pluralist elitism, in which politics in countries like the UK and US is polyarchy, rule by many elites (a plurality of elites). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree UK Government & Parliamentary Studies 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 University Degree UK Government & Parliamentary Studies essays

  1. Sovereignty, opinion and revolution in Edmund Burke.

    This reality had made possible by the triumph of speculative enthusiasm over practical wisdom,5 and Hobbes, once again, had diagnosed this condition in the critical circumstances of the 1640s as deriving from the fatal predominance of eloquence over reason.6 In the Elements of Law he informs his readership at a

  2. The Deliberative Agency: Opportunities to Deepen Public Participation.

    reflection and an understanding of multiple forces and views that surround an issue before citizens render their comments on a potential or draft policy. Five Rationales for Deliberation There are essentially five general rationales for citizen deliberation in democratic governance.10 Each rationale implies substantially different outcomes, constituting a range of

  1. Is Representative Democracy An Effective Way to Distribute Political Power?

    Let's begin with women in politics. With women making up 19.6% of our MPs, the UK is ranked 14th within the EU. UK is ranked 52nd out of 189 countries listed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in terms of the percentage of women holding office in the lower or single House of the national Parliamentary body 4.

  2. Analyse the ways in which US pressure groups are more significant then their UK ...

    from PR of law firms to influence federal, state or local governments. The NRA, for example, has over 100 full time lobbyists, giving it greater experience and knowledge. Many lobbyists have worked in government, which allows them to have a working knowledge of what goes on and also allows them to form relationships with other members.

  1. Compare and Contrast the types of military Government experienced in Egypt, Spain and Brazil ...

    "but appetite grew on what it fed on".4 This caused the Egyptian regime in the eye's of Finer to progress down the spectrum of regimes until it stabilised in the quasi-civilianised sector. The military government of Brazil can be classified as a dual regime.

  2. Compare and Contrast the changing roles and influence of Pressure Groups in the US ...

    to the weak party system it possesses - this allows groups to act as narrow issue parties themselves. To begin with, some basic statistics. In 1995, 79% of the US population were aligned with some sort of voluntary interest group.

  1. To what extent is it fair to say that 'pressure groups in America exert ...

    In this essay government systems of both countries will be looked at and the various methods used by the Pressure groups, such as; influencing the legislature, the executive, lobbying and the way the mass media is used as an instrument to influence public persuasion and to see if American groups have more influence than the British groups.

  2. Does the Media have too much political power in Britain?

    Ministers have in common is using the Media as a tool to create an imagine in the public, this allows them to dictate the Media by showing party unity and loyalty in their favour to look good, it also shows how important the Media is to contemporary politics.

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