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Chapter 20

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Sociology
Course
SOC102H1
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NS Chapter 20 Learned that water + sulphur dioxide = sulphuours acid Lived in St John, New Brunswick, 100 meters from one of larger pulp and paper mills in Canada Residences have a smokers cough in morning because breathing is causing gas to mix with moisture in our bodies and form acid that our lungs tried to expunge Medical research report shows that residents have a higher rate of lung disease Wanted to force owner, K. C. Irving- industrialist that controls 40% of New Brunswicks economic output Wanted to explain to students to demand closure of the mill Angered the students- schools Liberal Party Students in Paris, Mexico City and Berkeley rebelled but his fellow-students didnt Why are some groups more successful than others in formulating their demands and getting them carried out? Group power: ability of a group to impose its will on others, even if they resist Authority: power that is widely viewed as legitimate Authorities: people who occupy the command posts of legitimized power structures Sometimes power flows to nonauthorities and form social movements Social movements: enduring collective attempts to change part or all of social order by means of rioting, petitioning, striking, demonstrating, and establishing pressure groups, unions and political parties Political parties: organizations that seek to control state power Helps to distinguish between normal politics and politics beyond the rules Normal- politics as it is practiced when authorities are firmly in power Beyond the rules- politics practiced when legitimacy of authority grows weak Power from above: normal politics 1998 RCMP used pepper spray on people in Vancouver demonstrating against visiting Indonesian President Suharto Use of force: coercive power by authorities Use of force by authorities = sign of their weakness If authorities are truly in position of strength rule- widely recognized as legitimate Wont need to use force to impose their will because most people agree with their policies Normal = routine, nonviolent politics Canadian politics today normal politics- even though minor outbursts of violence sometimes occur Power is exercised in all social settings, but ultimate seat of power in society is the state State: set of institutions that formulate and carry out a countrys laws, policies, and binding regulations Authority stands above all others and if state needs to use force to maintain order or protect its borders, most people will regard its actions as legitimate In democratic countries- government is formed by elected members of politics party that wins most seats in a general election Head of party (executive branch) - prime minister + cabinet ministers = initiate policies, propose laws and see that they are enforced Legislature- people elected to parliament = turn proposed laws into operating statutes Judiciary/ court system = interpret laws and regulations Administrative apparatus/ Bureaucracy- undertake enforcement of laws Coercive apparatus (police and military) = enforce law and protect state if laws are broken or states security is jeopardized State- set of institutions that exercise control over society Civil society: private (non-state) sphere of social life exercise control over the state through a variety of organizations and institutions social movements, mass media (watch the state and keep public informed about quality of government), lobbies (advise politicians of their members desires and remind them how much their members votes and campaigns contributions matter) Are we subjected to enjoy government of the people, by the people, for the people or government of the people, by the lawyers, for the business owners? Pluralist theory one interpretation of relationship between state and civil society heterogeneous society with many competing interests and centers of power (e.g. parents + pensioners- one wants budgets to grow, other wants to shrink) therefore, no one group can control politics over time, all voters and interest groups influence the political process almost equally most often, politics involves negotiation and compromise between competing groups democracy is guaranteed because no one group of people is always able to control politics agenda or outcome of political conflict Elite theorists C Wright Mills- disagree Elites- small groups that occupy command posts of a societys institutions Most power elites- countrys biggest corporations, executive branch of government and military These men make important decisions that profoundly affect all members of society They do so without much regard for elections or public opinion all three are interconnected move from one to another over careers, children intermarry, maintain social contacts, from upper-middle to upper classes are not a ruling class (self conscious and cohesive group of people led by corporative executives who act to advance their common interests) independent of each other- agree on issues, but has own sphere of influence and conflict between them is frequent Elite critique of pluralism research established the existence of large, persistent, wealth-based inequalities in political influence and political participation John Porters The Vertical Mosaic a disproportionately large number of people in Canadas political and other elites come from upper and upper middle class families (40% of PMs, ministers, premiers and cabinet ministers were born in top 10% of pop) They cannot act dispassionately on behalf of all Canadians, rich and poor Porter- b/c of frequent conflict among elites- against that ruling class controls Students- interests of large corporations dominate Canadian political life They all agree that- Canadas well-to-do consistently exercise disproportionate influence over political life Many surveys show that political involvementwith social class Likelihood of voting falls with persons class position Intensity of political participation with political influence Poorest Canadians are the most politically apathetic and cynical Less interest in politics than the well-to-do and they are more likely to think that government does not care what they think They suffer from neglect by politicians who will be receptive to the wishes of the more privileged, participating and organized strata Marxist critique of Elite theory instrumentalists o Deny that elites enjoy more or less equal power o Elite form a ruling class dominated by big businesses o State is an arm (or instrument) of business elite o Business gains control of state in 3 main ways 1) members of wealthy families occupy important state positions in highly disproportionate numbers 2) gov officials rely mainly on reps of big business for advice 3) political parties rely mainly on big business for financial support o They agree on one issue- the need to maintain health of capitalist system structualists o Capitalist state acts as an arm of big business because it is constrained to do so by nature of capitalist system itself o E.g. if government corporate tax rate 2x, investment countries with regimes kinder to company profits affect jobs and prosperity o Therefore governments find their field of action restricted to policies that ensure well-being of big business o State is embedded in a capitalist system that forces it to act this way For both instrumentalist and structualists- ordinary citizens and especially members of working class, rarely have much influence over state policies True democracy- if members of working class and supporters overthrow capitalism and establish a socialist system in which economic differences between people are Power Balance theory Both pluralist and elitist approaches assume that distribution of power in society does not change much over time
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