Marxism and Pluralism are two theories which espouse particular views of the state which, on initial inspection, appear to be in opposition to each other. However, certain aspects of Pluralism's pressure groups reflect the economic drive of the state as demonstrated by Marx. This essay will assess both views, firstly by analysing each one separately and then comparing them in regards to our current situation.
The Pluralist view of the state deals primarily with the activities of pressure groups. The term, "pressure group" deals with a very large area, but can be taken to mean any organisation that looks to influence the government's decision making process. Pressure groups can include large corporations, oil consortiums, environmental groups or even a small group of citizens concerned with a local issue. The basic premise is that a pressure group will bring issues to the government as a neutral decision maker who will evaluate the matter and introduce legislation or economic changes in order to deal with it. As events and social conditions change, new groups will emerge and older groups will lose power, ensuring a continual struggle amongst these different sectors. Pluralism suggests that it is this which is good for democracy, firstly because opposing groups provide checks and balances for each other; for example, while Greenpeace may lobby for higher road taxes, oil consortiums argue against them, therefore both viewpoints are presented to the state, as a neutral decision maker. It also allows people access to politics constantly instead of only at election times; therefore pressure groups are an important means of political representation. By joining a pressure group people are able to express their feelings on certain issues and help to influence government decisions on that issue.
Pressure groups can also complement political parties and are normally allied with a specific one, which allows the public to put direct pressure on a political party to give priority to certain issues by joining a pressure group.