Four theories of governance the actions of political elites
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Four Theories of Governance: The Actions of Political Elites. James Wilson, political scientist. Marxist Theory. Government is a reflection of underlying economic forces Relies on ownership of the means of production

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Four Theories of Governance: The Actions of Political Elites

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Four theories of governance the actions of political elites

Four Theories of Governance: The Actions of Political Elites

James Wilson, political scientist


Marxist theory

Marxist Theory

  • Government is a reflection of underlying economic forces

  • Relies on ownership of the means of production

  • Pointless to study government since it is controlled by the dominant social class


Power elite theory

“Power Elite” Theory

  • C. Wright Mills, sociologist

  • Most important policies are set by a loose coalition of three groups – corporate leaders, top military officers and a handful of key political leaders (some political scientists now add the communications media, labor leaders or heads of special interest groups


How does the power elite theory work

How does the “Power Elite” Theory work?

  • Government is dominated by a few top leaders who enjoy advantages of wealth, status or organizational position, but most of whom are outside of government

  • Act in concert and their policies benefit the elite


Bureaucratic theory

Bureaucratic Theory

  • Max Weber, German historian and sociologist

  • Appointed civil servants run everything

  • All institutions, governmental and nongovernmental, have fallen under the control of large bureaucracies whose expertise and specialized competence are essential to the management of contemporary affairs


Pros cons

Pros / Cons

  • Pros: decisions are often more rational

  • Cons: too much political power is given to unelected bureaucrats


Pluralist theory

Pluralist Theory

  • Political resources are widely scattered among political elites so no elite has a monopoly

  • Policies are the outcome of competition, political compromise, and shifting alliances


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