Political Sociology – Week 1 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM
Theories of Political Power
1. The Pluralist Model
Power is distributed among a plurality of interest groups
No person, group, or organization holds absolute power in American
The pace of political change is slow
The state is neutral in the Pluralist Model
Interest Groups: Associations or groups of people who have circled around a
Those with higher socio-economic statuses participate in interest
groups more often.
2. The Power Elite Model
The idea that modern organizations of society are oligarchical
Oligarchy: Ruled by a few
Robert Michels, studied the most democratic organization (The
Social Democratic Party) in the late 19 thcentury Germany. This
organization fought for the lower classes, believed in the equality of
people. Marx was among it’s members. He studied how decisions
were made, who advocated, and when the party gathered to made
decisions, who actually made them. Turns out only a select few
made the main decisions.
Whomever says “organization” says “oligarchy.”
Society have smart people, “The Elites.” Society should be run by
them. – Vilfredo Pareto
C. Wright Mills – The Power Elite
Power Elite theorists believe only a few make critical decisions for
the masses. For the most part, the masses don’t care about these
3. The Class-Conflict Model
Predominant power is in the hands of those families that control the
means of production. These families have power because thy won
the means of production, this power is used to amass wealth by
exploiting the labor of those who do not won the means of
production. Those who control the means of production control what is needed
for human survival.
Surplus Theory of Value – Making commodities, and receiving
payment not equal to the value of the commodity.
Joe Carlos and Tommy Smith decided to raise their fists to the air after they
won the bronze and gold medals. They were taken off the track team and
Adam Smith and Karl Marx,
Labor Theory of Value claims that almost all of the value of stuff comes from
the value of the human labor that’s expended in making the stuff. Political Sociology – Week 2 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM
The Power Elite Continued
Mills is an optimist when it comes to the Power Elite theory.
C. Wright Mills makes the argument that the masses want
democracy, people want to participate, they believe power should
be shared, but many don’t participate.
He believes the reason the masses are apathetic is because the
elite deliberately confuse them. The Elite control the flow of
information and intentionally confuse the masses. By controlling the
flow of information, are controlling how political issues get
explained to them.
Workers sell their labor power to owners. Workers want to decrease the
working day and increase the wages.
Disposession – Taking away the means of production
Increase the working days
Decrease the wages
Wages in the 1960s – $16.00/hr
Older generations are agree to cutting wages of newer generations
as long as their wages remain constant.
Capitalist rule because they dominate
The Ideological Apparatus
The State Political Sociology – Week 3 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM
The working class has potentially great power. The potential power of the
working class lies in its ability to organize collective disobedience to the
order of the ruling class.
Social systems, especially hierarchical ones, rest on obedience. If the people
receiving the orders don’t listen, things don’t get done.
The Bourgeoisie are a ruling class because they rule three distinct areas of
our social system
o The Mean of Production
The Ideological Apparatus
o The ability to get the mass population to engage in wars and
have shared ideological beliefs.
o The pursuit of economic should be needed in society; greed is
needed for survival
o Societies consists of nations, cultural and ethnic groups,
rather than classes, thus they have national interest
transcending the interest of particular interest groups such as
Capitalists v Workers.
Nationalism – “We’re all Americans.” Capitalists try to
get people to see that they’re Americans and blind them
to the idea that we have a class.
False Consciousness – One’s inability to see their own
o The state represents or operates in the interest of the
American people in what is known as the “national interest.”
State - The institution of power by which one class
dominates another. The state can take different forms.
In the United States, it’s a democratic-republic. In
China, there’s a one-party rule. In Russia, they have a
royal dictatorship or a monarchy.
Government – The form that the State takes Elections are structured around who has the most
money, over 70% of the money used in elections comes
from the upper class.
Labor Theory of Value
Value originates in labor
Surplus Value = Profit
Also known as “Original Accumulation” is the idea that the
Bourgeoisie accumulated their wealth by hording most of the
In the uprising of the African American Studies, the Ford foundation decides
to dispense money to establish black programs, in order to sustain and
contain the control of information. An architect of the Vietnam War, Mac
Bundy was chosen to oversee the project. Using Ford money, his job was to
ensure that the African American studies department doesn’t get to radical. Political Sociology – Week 4 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM
U.S. Military Spending
The United States spends more than 5 times the combine totals of
the next 5 country’s spending.
When Theodore Roosevelt took the Panama Canal for himself, he exemplified
the principle of Primitive Accumulation
U.S. justification for going into Kuwait to “protect” Kuwait citizens
U.S deploys troops into Panama to “instigate” an attack on U.S.
soldiers, thus justifying a war with Panama
Boston Massacre v Texas Fertilizer Explosion
Texas explosion not seen as important as Boston Massacre because
companies were responsible for the explosion.
Social Systems rest on obedience, and obedience rests on the control of
Resources are finite, labor is finite. The competition for the right to
these resources becomes increasingly intense.
In order to better position themselves economically, France took
over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
School of the Americas (SOA)
Provides counterinsurgency training; provides techniques in
Although the Panamanian invasion engaged in counterinsurgency to
maintain dominance, most of the counterinsurgency takes place
with U.S. funded and managed proxy counterinsurgencies
o U.S. Military trains local governments so that they’ll prevent
rebellious behavior on behalf of the U.S., all of which is
funded by the American tax dollars. United States funds the destabilization of countries to the point where the
people have no where to go. Latin America produces masses of unemployed.
These unemployed travel to the United States to find work. U.S. receives
cheap labor. Political Sociology – Week 5 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM
Capitalism and Fascism
It’s claimed that Capitalism and Democracy go hand in hand.
Capitalism has had a contradictory past however, especially in association
Robert Paxton – The Anatomy of Fascism
None of the Fascist hierarchies altered the system in the way Capitalism
Fascist regimes were intensely nationalistic. Germany was known for being
racist, nationalistic, and devoted to purging weakness. Hitler and the Nazis
come to power in 1933. They’re militaristic, imperialistic, anti-labor, anti-
Ironically the United States and Germany are alike
Pro White Supremacy
They are militaristic
They are imperialistic
Anti-Labor and Anti-Communist
They both claim the rights to imperialize other countries
When a nation is in a depressed economy, there are two ways to get profits
Expand Your Markets
o Markets for Labor, Raw Materials, and Export for Commodities
U.S. Britain and France have colonies (places to export commodities and
cheap labor), whereas Germany, Italy, and Japan have no colonies.
Furthermore, Axis Powers don’t have an energy source (Oil) in the ways the
Allied Powers do. U.S. gets it’s oil from Texas and California. After WWI,
Britain and France acquired the Middle East, giving them access to oil fields.
Royal Dutch Shell (British Oil Company). Japan invades Indonesia to seize British Royal Dutch Shell oil refineries.
According to General Douglass Macarthur, if the German’s had gotten to Iran
and Iraq, they would have had the resources to fight a protracted war for
the next 10 years.
A response of the Capitalist class to perceive economic and/or
political crises such as a fall in the rate of profit or the threat of
political rebellion. A crisis demands ruthless measures for its
solutions, the subordination of the individual to the national group,
the silencing of descent, the greater expropriation of wealth from
the working class, and preparation for war.
Preparation of the people for war. Militarization of the mass
Why did it take so long for the United States to get involved, especially if the
Axis Powers were dipping into U.S. profits?
The difference between Dictatorships and Fascism is that fascists are
imperialistic; they seek to dominate other countries.
EX: Iraq is a dictatorship, but it’s not a fascist regime.
The covert, underlining racism in societies
EX: Refusing to see someone during office hours because of one’s
De facto Racism
Open, unambiguous racism
EX: Giving someone a good grade based on one’s grade
White Man’s Burden
It’s the White Man’s responsibility to oversee other races, similar to
Real Wages – What are you able to actually buy with your wages?
Reduce Wages Increase Working Day
Salary Wage System
Remove or Prevent Unions
Cut Your Work Hours Midterm Review 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM
Domhoff - Chapter 2,3,
In chapter five of his book, Kloby discusses several competing theories of
the modern state. Among these are the pluralist model and the
instrumentalist model (also known as Domhoff’s class-domination model).
Compare and contrast these two theories with respect to the following
1. The distribution of power in society.
Pluralist: The Pluralist Theory generally sees American society as
composed of various interest groups, none of which have any major
advantage in terms of their ability to influence government
decision-making. The state in the pluralist model is regarded as
reasonable and unbiased, not favoring one group over another.
Instrumentalist: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat, Owners of the Means
of Production and the Working Class.
2. The role of the state in policy decision-making.
Pluralist: The fundamental principle of the pluralist model is the
notion that the state is autonomous and unbiased. The state is like
a balance scale, and the input from various interest groups is
weighed on a scale. The state then makes a decision, or a policy,
based on the weight of the arguments put forth by the interest
groups, or based on the sheer number of people lined up on each
side of the issue.
Instrumentalism is defined as a theory that explains the ties
between the state and the ruling class. Although the government
and the state are ―empirically overlapping phenomena,‖ one can
think of the government as that part of the U.S. political system
that mediates public policy, and the state as the set of institutions
and processes that ―orchestrates coercion and control, both overtly
The ruling party is a group designed to simplify the dominant
nature of the Bourgeoisie. This is seen when Republican Presidents
create laws to protect the power Elite and big corporations, and instead tax lower income families. NAFTA (North American Free
Trade Agreement) also permits free trade between the U.S.,
Mexico, and Canada, an agreement signed by our President to allow
businesses to make money trading with other nations. The
necessary but Antagonistic Relations is also an excellent example of
the executive of the modern State managing the bourgeoisie.
Nations like China were threatened by the Britain because they
refused to allow the trade of opium, or when the U.S. threatened
Vietnam and even entered a war with them because they refused to
open the doors to trade. The threat of war is a power the executive
of the State has to further the bourgeoisie’s profitable motives.
3. The demographics (social composition) of those who rule America.
Pluralist: No difference demographically. Everyone has the right to
vote and the right to create interest groups
Instrumentalist: Corporate and Political America are ruled by
economic, political, and the military elites. At the top of the
economy, among the corporate rich, there are the chief executives;
at the top of the political order, the members of the political
directorate; at the top of the military establishment, the elite of
soldier-statesmen clustered in and around the Join Chiefs of staff
and the upper echelon.
American wealth is extremely skewed in terms of it’s distribution
among individuals. According to Domhoff, the top 1% of the
American population owns 35.5% of the country’s private financial
wealth. 19% own 53.5% of the nations wealth. In combination, the
top 20% owns 89% of the nations wealth. The last 80% of the
nation owns 11% of the wealth.
Domhoff claims that a number of social institutions provide evidence that
capitalists constitute a cohesive social and economic class with awareness of
its group interests. Among these institutions are prep schools, social clubs,
interlocking directorates, and foundation sponsorship of think tanks and policy-formation (planning) organizations. In one or two sentences define
and indicate the significance of each term:
1. Prep Schools
Prep Schools are social institutions geared towards educating
upper-class children. These schools are usually privately funded,
are equipped with resources such as private tutors, new books and
materials, and exhibit an investment in their constituents’
2. Social Clubs
Clubs for high-level political and economic leaders. Social Clubs are
ways for wealthy individuals to relax, socialize, plan, and continue
their dominance over middle and lower class individuals. Social
Clubs provide direct access to those already in power and a way for
the bourgeoisie to mingle or to do business with others.
3. Interlocking Directorates
Defined as linkages between corporations. When a board member
sits on two or more. Interlocking Directorates occurs when a high-
level executive is a member of other corporations. This allows them
to gain new information, protect their company’s interests, and
further their agendas. Companies like Chase Manhattan Bank and
CitiGroup have 45 and 70 company connections respectively.
4. Outside Directors
5. The Inner Circle
The inner circle is characterized as a group of individuals with
similar interests, political and economic positions, who have
common interests and shared goals. For Example, members of the
UC Regents board group are apart of an Inner Circle, in that they
have a shared goal to make profit and expand their respective
enterprises. Outer Circle members are members of a board or
group that have a somewhat shared interest, but exhibit no definite power to do so. They are outcasts because their interest do not
align in the ways Inner Circle members’ goals do.
One UC Regent – Member of a construction company. His interests lie in
securing construction contracts for the company.
Two UC Regent – Member of a bank. Her interests lie in providing loans and
financial support for students through Bank of America credit cards.
Both Domhoff and political theorists discussed in Kloby’s fifth chapter
(pluralists, elite, structuralists) ignore the class relations of the economy
itself as a realm of political power. Discuss how the social relations of
production can involve domination and exploitation.
In doing so, include definitions of the following terms:
Under direct control of the power elite, the social relations of production
become a trigger, a device for the domination and exploitation of a people.
Productive capital are devices that aid in the creation of goods and services.
Also under the alias, Means of Production, productive capital is responsible
for the development of capital. For example, windmills are utilized to
produce electricity to power factories and machinery, and to ultimately
produce wealth. Wealth will allow the bourgeoisie to purchase new
machinery, devices that will aid in meeting the demand for their
commodities. Workers are expected to acquire the skills to operate the these
machines without suggestions of increased pay. Labor exploitation also
takes place though the Salary system. Under this system of pay, employees
are paid a definite amount per month or per year, however they’re expected
to work until the job is done, and at all hours of the day. This corporate
tactic is used to get employees to work more than the 8hr/day limit.
The Relations of Production is defined as the relationship between the
Proletariat (the workers) and the Bourgeoisie (owners). Under capitalism,
the owners of the means of production dictate all factors in our economic
society. This includes work hours, skills required for a job, wages etc. Under the Labor Theory of Value, workers are expected to earn wages in relation
to the amount of labor power they put into a product. However, it doesn’t
work this way. Wages are distributed on an hourly basis; thus no matter
how much work an individual puts into creating a commodity and how much
the commodity is worth, they will always receive the same wage. This theory
is directly attached to the Surplus Value Theory. Under this theory, the
surplus from a commodity or goods are channeled into profits. For example,
a worker creates a table worth $100, however is only paid $80 ($8/hour).
The ownership of private property is a central problem in our society
because it gives a select few the right to the means of production. The legal
methods that businesses and corporations use to exploit people are
protected by laws. Under these protections, the Bourgeoisie utilize the
means of production (i.e. factories, machinery).
1. Means of production
2. Social relations of production
3. Labor theory of value
4. Surplus value
5. Exploitation of labor
Domhoff writes: “The extensive corporate network created by interlocking
directors provides a general framework within which common business and
political perspectives can gradually develop. It is one building block toward a
more general class awareness” (p. 31). In this essay:
1. Define “boards of directors” and indicate their importance or significance.
The leaders of a given corporation. They consist of the CEO, CFO,
and 10 high-level corporate executives. The official governing body
of a corporation. Receive reports and other information.
Responsible for accepting/rejecting company policies, mergers, and
2. Distinguish between “inside directors” and “outside directors” and indicate
the significance of the outside directors.
Governing body and executives on the board, but work below the
board of directors. They shape the board’s visions. Inside Directors – High level members of a company who have the
power to shape policies and make corporate decisions
Outside Directors – High level members of a company that are
members of the boards of other companies. EX: CitiBank has over
70 executives who sit on other company’s boards.
3. Define “interlocking directorates” and discuss their role in creating
Provides a general framework within which common business and
political interests can commonly develop.
4. Define “the inner circle” and indicate its importance.
The inner circle is composed of a group of high-level board
members who have the power to enact economic change and make
corporate decisions. The ―inner circle‖ has power to make
decisions, but the outer circle does not. It’s a way to make it seem
like there’s diversity in these corporations.
EX: UC Regents – Inner Circle, Student Regent – Outer Circle
Drawing upon Domhoff, Who Rules America? Discuss the policy-planning
network and its relationship to the American class structure. In this essay:
1. Provide an overview of the policy-planning network.
EX: A network of individuals who create policies. EX: Senators,
2. Define foundations, think tanks, and policy-planning groups and describe
their roles in funding and formulating policy.
If a company decides to fund money into a program, they do it
through a foundation. Foundations are established to fund money
into non-profit pursuits.
Think Tanks produce the research for specific ideological battles and
conflicts. For Example: Gun laws have been under public scrutiny
recently after the mass shootings. Think Tanks are charged with coming up with research to debunk ideologies of others. I.e. Guns
don’t instigate violence, videogames do. Think Tanks provide
research for lawyers, senators, policymakers, and others in power.
These policy planning groups (lawyers, policymakers) are then
equipped with the research to justify the creation and disassembly
3. According to Domhoff, why does an capitalist foundation such as the Ford
Foundation disburse money to environmental and minority organizations?
Companies like the Ford Foundation distribute money to
environmental and minority organizations to put on the perception
that they are diverse, and that they care about society’s well being.
4. What is Domhoff’s definition of the power elite?
The Power Elite is the idea that society is ruled by a few select
individuals. Political power concentrated among men and women.
People who will rise above all else in the political and economic
Drawing on lecture (including class handouts) and films (The Panama
Deception, SOA: An Insider Speaks Out, “Three Narratives about the
Vietnam War” and Howard Zinn’s History of American Empire) discuss
imperialism and the manufacture of two distinct sets of knowledge about
war: a set of arguments justifying military intervention and a set of
arguments criticizing military intervention. (Hint: approach this using class
analysis; that is, in terms of class, who is producing justifications for war
and what resources do they possess to do so? Conversely, who prod