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Lecture 12

SOCA01 Lecture 12: Introduction to Sociology; Week 12.docx


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA01H3
Professor
Francisco Villegas
Lecture
12

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Introduction to Sociology
Week 12; November 26th 2014
Class Overview
Last Class!!!!!!!! =(
Lecture
Final Exam prep
oSample questions
oStudy sessions
S.O.S.
T.A.
Discussion Board
Facebook page
Evaluations
SocA02
Functionalism and Politics
Pluralist theory: “power is widely dispersed. As a result, no group enjoys
disproportionate influence, and decisions are usually reached through negotiation
and compromise” (p. 357)
oNumerous competing interests and decisions are made according to
democratic decision-making structures including voting, electing officials,
and compromising.
oBased on belief that politics “helps society achieve its collective goals and
interests, in the process integrating its members and keeping it in
equilibrium” (p. 357).
Decisions are made in relation to the collective rather than the
interests of a few.
Toronto
Known as the “Canadian city that works”
oWhat is its slogan?
oAccording to functionalist theory, the makeup of individuals in office
should be representative of the space
http://torontoist.com/2014/10/election-2014-city-council-still-
doesnt-look-like the-city/
Would also be interesting to see this in relation to class and
intersectionally
Conflict Theory and Politics
Elite theory: “small groups occupying the command posts of most influential
institutions make important decisions that profoundly affect all members of
society. Moreover, they do so without much regard for elections or public
opinions” (p. 357)
oThese individuals are considered the “elites”

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Elites are believed to hold power positions in prominent
institutions including the government, top corporations, and the
military
“People move from one elite group to another during their
careers” (p. 357)
oYet Mills did not believe in the presence of a
“ruling class”, “a self-conscious and cohesive group
of people in elite positions. They act to advance
their common interests, and corporate executives
lead them” (p. 358)
The elitist critique
A disproportionately large number of people in Canadas political [landscape]
and other elites come from upper-class and upper-middle-class families”
oAbout 40 percent of Canadian prime ministers, premiers, and cabinet
ministers were born into the riches 10 percent of families in the country”
It is very expensive to run for office (individuals with less wealth
often go into debt while running for office)
Going into office can often necessitate networks and capital that is
already present within the upper economic echelons of today’s
society
Power is reproduced
These politicians “tend to marry the offspring of other elite
members and belong to exclusive clubs. In the course of their
careers, they often move from one elite group to another”
Look up past presidents and prime ministers and see what
positions they occupied prior to taking up a political career
and where they are today
The elitist critique
Political system for whom?
oIf the political system is considered to benefit only a particular segment of
the population, the rest of nation may find the political process
uninteresting
Engagement decreases according to class
Working class people are less likely to engage in the
political process
Already excluded from running for many posts
Seldom see a difference between political parties
Less likely to believe a politician or political platform will
make necessary change
oIt is important that we ask why
oWhat events or practices have disenfranchised such
a significant portion of our communities?
oHow do ensure that the political realm is not a class-
based playground?
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Marxist critique to Elite theory
Believe that the main instrument behind policy is business
Three ways
o“First, members of wealthy families occupy important state positions in
highly disproportionate numbers. Second, government officials rely
mainly on the representatives of big business for advice. Third, political
parties rely mainly on big business for financial support” (p. 360)
According to this critique then, the political landscape is primarily
populated by wealthy owners of industry and politicians are also
dependent on businesses to remain in office
oA second critique is less focused on social origins or ties
It focuses on the ways the national wellbeing is often tied to
industry and the ways capitalism facilitates redirecting capital
investment
Power resource theory
Holds that distribution of power among major classes partly accounts for the
successes and failures of different political parties.
Organization is a source of power. Change in the distribution of power between
major classes partly accounts for the fortunes of different political parties and
different laws and policies.
Left vs. Right
Not often so clear-cut
oRanges of left vs. right go beyond class-based concerns
Power resource theory
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