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PSYB21H3 (18)

Pages 357-365 sociology.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Pages 357-366 A Functionalist Account: Pluralist Theory  Pluralist theory holds that power is widely dispersed. As a result, no group enjoys disproportionate influence, and decisions are usually reached through negotiation and compromise.  Pluralists believed that democracies were heterogeneous societies with many competing interests and centres of power.  Pluralists follow the functionalist script. They view political systems as an institution that helps society achieve goals and interests in the process of integrating members and keeping equilibrium. Conflict approaches  Elite theorists disagreed with the pluralist account. They argued that groups with opposing goals and interests confront each other in the political arena and that while conflict is not always overt it is never far below the surface of political affairs. Powerful groups have more control over less powerful.  C.Wright Mills defined elites as small groups that occupy the command posts of a society’s most influential institutions.  Mills showed how the corporate, state and military (3 forms of institutions) are connected. People move from one elite group to another during their careers. Children intermarry and tend to be recruited from upper middle and upper classes.  Mills denied that these connections turn the three elites into what Marx called a ruling class which is a self conscious and cohesive group of people, led by big corporate shareholders who act to shore up capitalism.  Marxists are critics of elite theory.  One group of Marxists known as instrumentalists denies that elites enjoy more or less equal power. They say elites form a ruling class dominated by big business. From their point of view, the state is an arm(instrument) of the business elite.  Big business
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