Length: 5 Pages 1158 Words

“Pluralism can never exist in its purest form.” Discuss with reference to elitism and Marxism. Many major sociological theories are concerned with the distribution of power in society and view those with power as controlling the society. In this essay I will be examining the way pluralism, elitism and Marxism view the distribution of power in society as well as why it is argued that pluralism cannot exist in its purest form. Pluralists, such as Weber, believe that direct democracy is impractical in modern, complex societies and that representative democracy is the best way to ensure all interest are represented. Pluralism defines two key factors that ensure representation of all interest groups as competing political parties providing a choice of government policies and pressure groups influencing political decisions. Pluralists view the state as necessary to maintain democracy by promoting political liberty. For example, freedom of speech and holding regular free elections provides everyone in society with the opportunity to express their opinion on political issues. Hence Britain, from this perspective can be categorized as a pluralist society as it conforms to all of the above criteria. Pluralism in its pures Continue...

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In addition, some interest groups are not represented at all as they are hidden from society such as domestic violence, which has only recently become an issue. Britain can also be used as an example of an elitist society. In conclusion it appears that pluralism in its purest form is too idealistic to work in practice. Through the investigation of elite recruitment in Britain it is clear that the majority of those in power from banking, civil service, law and parliament all have similar backgrounds that is public school and Oxbridge education. However the closed social connections and recruitment patterns of the elite lead to a ruling class rather than simply a power elite and this may lead to conflict. If those in power in Britain are a minority, with similar education, backgrounds and interests then the pluralist view that all groups of society are represented is inaccurate. It is argued however that in modern societies a ruling class no longer exist as ownership and control are disconnected and therefore, neo-Marxist, Coates has reapplied the Marxist theory to modern society. Coates argues that whilst power is held by many different sections of society he doesn't believe it is widespread. This may be due to unequal resources. Also it can be argued that voters don't really have any power as those truly in power manipulate their views, shaping their decision. However, Marxists see the structure of society as determined by its relations of production and thus it is the owners of the means of production that create the ruling class. Functionalists view the elite as a qualified superior group, necessary to maintain social control. Pluralists, such as Dahl, view those making or influencing decisions as having power, therefore pluralism in its purest form would mean that power is divided amongst several groups rather than being monopolised by one. Therefore as described by elitism it is inevitable that a power elite will exist.


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