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Commit Sociology - Politics and Social Movements.docx

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Christian O.Caron

- Power = the ability of an individual or group to impose its will on others (66) - Authority = power that is widely viewed as legitimate (66) - Social movements = enduring collective attempts to change the social order by means of rioting, petitioning, striking, demonstrating, and establishing unions, pressure groups, and political parties (66) - Political parties = organizations that seek to control state power (67) - Weber argued that authority can have three bases: traditional authority, legal-rational authority, or charismatic authority (67) - Traditional authority = rulers inherit authority through family or clan ties (67) - Legal-rational authority = laws specify how people can achieve office and positions of power (67) - The state = a set of institutions that formulate and carry out a country’s laws, policies, and binding regulations (67) - Pluralist theory = society has many competing interests and centres of power and no single entity can predominate in the long run (68) - Politics involves negotiation among competing groups (68) - Elite theory = elites have more political influence, so society isn’t that democratic (69) - There are three different groups of elites, the executive branch of government, people who run corporations, and the military (69) - Their interests are different, but they all have lots of power (69) - Most people who become elites have privileged backgrounds and may move from one elite to another (69) - Ruling class = self-conscious and cohesive group of people who act to advance their common interests (69) - Political participation declines as class does (69) - The Marxist critique of elite theory proposes that the state is an instrument of the business elite (69) - According to structuralism, since the state is fuelled by capitalism, the state must put business interests first (70) - Power-balance theory = power is usually concentrated in the hands of the wealthy, but the distribution of power can change over time, and other classes sometimes gain power (72) - The more evenly power is distributed in society, the more democratic the society is (72) - State-centered theory = the state structures political life regardless of the way power is distributed (74) - This serves to uphold the legitimacy of the state, since if opponents of the ruling party weren’t given the opportunity to have their voices heard, they might not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling party (74) - States are organized in ways that keep potentially disruptive social forces at bay, ex. American voter registration laws (75) - Until about 1970, sociologists argued that social movements emerge when people experience relative deprivation, and people who lead social movements are outsiders who lack strong social ties to their communities (76) - However, these ideas have been
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