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Pluralism vs. Elitism Opinion

Compose a paper in which you express a personal judgment regarding which theory (pluralism or elitism) best describes wealth and power in the United States. In your response, please be sure to address the following points:

a. Disclose your participation in political activities. Assess how these activities may have influenced your judgment.
b. Beyond your personal experience, what specific evidence supports your appraisal?
c. Based on your appraisal of elitism and pluralism, is Madison's hope that the checks and balances in the Constitution and the existence of opposing factions working sufficiently so the general good is not being sacrificed for the good of powerful elite and special interests?
d. In summarizing your conclusions, make specific mention of why this topic (wealth and power in America) should be of both personal and social relevance.

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In order to start understanding this question, let us first understand the fundamental difference between elitism and pluralism. Elitism is the belief or attitude that the people who are considered to be the elite ? a selected group of persons with outstanding personal abilities, wealth, specialised training or experience, or other distinctive attributes ? are the people whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously, or that these are persons whose views should be regarded as carrying the most weight, or, more simply, these people are best fit to govern or whose views and/or actions are mostly likely to be constructive. Alternatively, the term elitism could be used to describe a situation in which power is in fact concentrated in the hands of an elite, whether rightly or not. Pluralism, on the other hand, is the belief that public policy decisions should be (or, descriptively, are) the result of the struggle of forces exerted by large populations (workers, consumers, retirees, parents, etc.) directly or indirectly in the policy-making process. This is contrasted with elitism which is the belief that decisions should be (or are) being made essentially according to the interests or ideas of elites.
It has always been a matter of debate whether wealth and power in America can be best described by Elitism or Pluralism. Wright Mills believed America's leaders are institutional elites because they are the ones who possess formal authority in the country. Among scholars who later emphasized this was Thomas Dye, whose book Who's Running America? Institutional Leadership in the United States (1976) and its sequel volumes attested to this view in detail, "naming names." Somewhat similar, though concentrating on persons occupying powerful institutional positions who come to government and other command positions from what is regarded as the "upper class," was G. William Domhoff, whose book Who Rules America? (1967) and other studies carried on a more radical tradition. Both were basically on the "elitist" side. The opposing view, that mere potential control and formal authority are not enough, and that an examination of actual decisions made in America shows a wider variety of participants, was perhaps most influentially stated by Robert A. Dahl in numerous works, including Who Governs? (1961), a study of local politics in New Haven, Connecticut. This, the "pluralist" view, resists the argument that there is a single power structure, describing instead a basic competition for power and control.
However, my view is biased towards the elitist's view that wealth and power in America can be best described by Elitism. This view is based on the following facts:

According to C. Wright Mills, the governing elite in the United States draws its members from three areas: (1) the highest political leaders including the president and a handful of key cabinet members and close advisers; (2) major corporate owners and directors; and (3) high-ranking military officers.

In the first place, the elite occupies what Mills terms the top command posts of society. These positions give their holders enormous authority over not just governmental, but financial, educational, social, civic, and cultural institutions as well. A small group is able to take fundamental ...

Solution Summary

Compose a paper in which you express a personal judgment regarding which theory (pluralism or elitism) best describes wealth and power in the United States.