New theorists argue that pluralism has put too much emphasis on the benefits of the government consulting widely with different interest groups. As a result of such criticisms many of the supporters of classical pluralism have changed or modified their positions. The power Elite theory, claims that a single elite, not a multiplicity of competing groups, decides the life and death issues for the nation as a whole, leaving relatively minor matters for the middle level and almost nothing for the common person. It thus paints a dark picture.
People living in a country that prides on democracy, that is surrounded by the trappings of free government, and that constantly witnesses the comings and goings of elected officials may find the idea of a power Elite farfetched. Elite theorists argue that power is concentrated in the hands of a small minority. It developed in response to Marxism, which claimed that true democracy was only possible under socialism. Elite theorists argue that rule by elites in inevitable in all societies, even socialist ones.
However, some Elite theorists argue that rule by elites results from the way societies are organised rather than being an inevitable feature of human society. Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) rejected the idea that real democracy was ever possible. He claimed that the psychological characteristics of elites separated them from the masses. He classified elites into two types, lions, distinguished by their ability to act forcefully go gain and retain power, and foxes who relied on cunning and ability to manipulate people.
Wright Mills, Power Elite claimed that elites were a result of the structure of society. Ian Budge says that it is a case of fragmented elites, in UK a number of elites, which compete with each other. Recruitment is important, also in UK, many top decision makers in different fields are related by kinship and marriage. A further aspect of Elites, which has received considerable attention, is the degree of integration between Elite groups. Mills argued that the American power Elite was united by its common outlook and social connections.
In Britain, a study by Tom Lupton & Shirley Wilson (1973) shows that many top decision makers such as government ministers, top civil servants and financial leaders are related by kinship and marriage. A similar study by Richard Whitely (1974) reveals that many large firms are linked by overlapping directorships or by kinship ties between directors. For Marx the structure of society is primarily determined by the way the economy is organised, for example, under capitalism, relations of productions are based on private ownership and control. Capitalists invest their wealth in financing production and workers are paid wages for their labour.
Capitalists are seen to dominate and exploit workers. This economic relationship produces the class system of capitalist society. Marx believed that all societies function is relation to this. They do not believe, like Pluralists, that the state serves the interests of society as a whole. Marx and Engels believed the state, through religion, legal structure, etc, served the interests of the capitalist class. It serves and through its agencies, police, military and judiciary, the interests of those who have economic power. According to David Coates, Britain is made up of a number of interest groups, financial capital is dominant.
Liberal democracy can only survive if state can mobilise support of interest economic class. Those who control the means of production and economic system rule society. Marxist theory, like Elitism, questioned the Pluralist nature of society. Those who owned and controlled capital were not necessarily the same as those who exercised political power; the views and values of the former determined the actions undertaken by the latter. Policy making thus reflected the interests of those who controlled the means of production (who were termed the bourgeoisie).
I think Pluralism, Elitism, Marxism are very useful to understand the concepts of power in society, as I have defined these three theories, it is clear now to think about the power which is in our society with different shapes. In common with Pluralism it emphasised the importance of pressure groups in the formation of public policy. In accordance with Elite theory, it emphasised the dominant position, which is occupied by a relatively small number of powerful and highly organised groups, and Marxist theory said that in industrialised societies the elite consisted of the economically dominant class.
We understand clearly the power, which is in society, and we can see these three types of power in our life. References Lupton, T. & Wilson, S. (1973), Power In Britain, As cited in, Taylor P, (2002) Sociology In Focus, Causeway Press Limited, Lancashire. Page 207 Mills, W. (1956), The Power Elite, As cited in, Taylor P, (2002) Sociology In Focus, Causeway Press Limited, Lancashire. Page 207 Weber, M. (1978), An Outline Of Interpretive Sociology, As cited in, Taylor P (2002) Sociology In Focus, Causeway Press Limited, Lancashire.
Page 192 Coates, D. (1984), The Context Of British Politics, As cited in, Flood E, (2006) Politics And Power, Stockport College, Heaton Moor Campus, Stockport. Page 6 Pareto, V. (1963), General Sociology, As cited in, Flood E, (2006) Politics And Power, Stockport College, Heaton Moor Campus, Stockport. Page 6 Budge, I. (1983), The New British Political System, As cited in, Flood E, (2006) Politics And Power, Stockport College, Heaton Moor Campus, Stockport. Page 7 Whitley, R.
(1974), The City And Industry, As cited in, Taylor P (2002) Sociology In Focus, Causeway Press Limited, Lancashire. Page 201 Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1977), The Communist Menifesto, As cited in, Taylor P (2002) Sociology In Focus, Causeway Press Limited, Lancashire. Page 199 Bibliography Flood, E. , (2006) Politics And Power, Stockport, Stockport College; Heaton Moor Campus Joyce, P. , (2004) An Introduction To Politics, London, London Press Limited. Taylor. (2002) Sociology In Focus, Lancashire, Causeway Press Limited.