SOC 2390 Lecture Notes - Elite, Getty Oil, The Power Elite

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29 Jan 2013
Understanding Corporations
• A Transnational or Multinational Corporation refers to a large-scale business organization that is
headquartered in one country but operating in many countries
- The shareholders in transnational corporations live throughout the world. Most shareholders have
little control over where plants are located, how much employees are paid, or how the environment is
• The largest transnational corporations are headquartered in the United States, Japan, Korea, and
Concentration of Corporate Wealth
Concentration of Wealth Wealth in the business community is centralized in a relatively few major
corporations, and this concentration is increasing. In 2000, for example, the minimum revenue to be in
among the 500 largest corporations was $2.9 billion. The top corporation, Exxon Mobil, had $210 billion
in revenues. Also, consider:
- Less that 1% of all corporations account for over 80% of the total output of the private sector
- Of the 15,000 commercial U.S. banks, the largest 50 hold more than one-third of all assets
- One percent of all food corporations control 80% of all the industry’s assets and about 90% of the
- Six multinational corporations ship 90% of the grain in the world
- Nine massive conglomerates dominate the U.S. media landscape, supplying virtually all the television
programs, movies, videos, radio shows, music, and books
- Each of the top three companiesExxon Mobil, General Motors, and Fordhas revenues greater than
the national budgets of all but 7 of the 191 nations of the world.
• A country’s wealth is usually measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but this indicator fails to
show how the wealth is divided by the members of the society and how the people really live. It also
does not take into consideration the informal economy, the alternative economic exchanges and
activities (e.g., crime, drug trafficking, prostitution) that are not documented.
The Myth of Competition
Interlocking Directorates refer to the linkages that result when an individual serves on the board of
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