In a democracy
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In a Democracy. Power Distribution . Majoritarian politics . leaders are forced to follow the preferences of citizens very closely. The people have such intense feelings about a political issue that leaders feel obligated to follow the popular will.

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In a democracy

In a Democracy

Power Distribution


Majoritarian politics

Majoritarian politics

  • leaders are forced to follow the preferences of citizens very closely.

  • The people have such intense feelings about a political issue that leaders feel obligated to follow the popular will.

  • On the vast majority of issues, however, political elites determine the outcome.


Elites

Elites

  • An elite is an identifiable group that possesses a disproportionate share of some valued resource – in this case, political power.

  • We will concentrate on these elites throughout the course.


Four major theories of who governs

Four major theories of who governs

  • Marxists

  • Power elites

  • Bureaucrats

  • populists


Marxists

Marxists

  • The Marxist theory holds that government is merely a reflection of underlying economic forces.

  • Ownership of the means of production: capitalists (bourgeoisie) verses the workers (proletariat).


Power distribution

  • Whichever class dominates the economy controls the government;

  • therefore, the interests of large corporations are particularly powerful in American government.


Power elite

Power elite

  • A second, related view, the power elite, holds that elites outside government, in addition to corporate leaders, have power.

  • This view is expresses by C. Wrights Mills in his book The Power Elite.

  • He held that this group, a loose coalition, of non-government elite, composed of three groups – corporate leaders, top military officers, and key political leaders, make most political decisions.


Power distribution

  • Also included in this group would be the leaders of media conglomerates; major labor leaders and leaders of special interest groups.


Bureaucrats

Bureaucrats

  • Appointed officials who operate government agencies and large corporations have come to dominate.

  • Max Weber, the foremost exponent of this view, felt the power of bureaucrats would become “overtowering.”

  • These bureaucrats bring the expertise and comprise the specialized managers.


Pluralist

Pluralist

  • Holds that political resources are so widely scattered that no single groups (national, state, local governments and anyone involved) can dominate most, or even much, of the political process.

  • Power may be exercise through such diverse groups that they represent almost all citizens affected by a policy. (businessmen, politicians, union leaders, journalists, bureaucrats, professors, environmentalists, lawyers).

  • In this view, policy comes from compromise.


Power distribution

  • No single theory of political power is capable of adequately explaining the decision-making process.

  • Policy shifts reflect responses to changing beliefs about government’s role as well as the evolution of political institutions and elites over time.


Power distribution

  • Factors that identify the political elite change over time.

  • Land ownership, once so critical to the exercise of influence, is largely irrelevant today.

  • Thus no stable pattern of decision-making will survive as valid for long.


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