political and other elites come from upper-class and upper-middle-class families.
In their youth, members of Canada’s elites are likely to have attended private
schools. As adults, they tend to marry the offspring of other elite member and belong
to exclusive private clubs. In the course of their careers, they often move from one
elite group to another.
Porter argued against the view that a ruling class controls Canada. His top students
argued that the interests of large corporations dominate Canadian political life.
Both Porter and his students agreed that contrary to pluralist claims, Canada’s well-
to-do consistently exercise disproportionate influence over political life in this
Many surveys show that political involvement decreases with social class.
The likelihood of voting falls with a person’s class position. As intensity of political
participation declines, so does political influence.
The poorest Canadians are the most politically apathetic and cynical. They have less
interest in politics than the well-to-do and they are more likely to think that
government does not care what they think.
Marxist Rejoinders to Elite Theory
Some Marxists, known as “instrumentalists,” deny that elites enjoy more or less
equal power. They say elites form ruling class dominated by big business.
Big business gets the control of the state in three main ways:
oMembers of wealthy families occupy important state positions in highly
oGovernment officials rely mainly on the representatives of big business for
oPolitical parties rely mainly on big business for financial support.
A second group of Marxists, known as “structuralists,” offers a somewhat different
interpretation of why the state in capitalist society is necessarily biased in favour of
big business. For the structuralists, it is not so much the social origins of high
government officials on the social ties linking them with big business that
encourages the state of act with a pro-capitalist bias. Rather, they argue, the