â€œPluralism can never exist in its purest form.â€ Discuss with reference to elitism and Marxism.
Many major sociological theories are concerned with the distribution of power in society and view those with power as controlling the society. In this essay I will be examining the way pluralism, elitism and Marxism view the distribution of power in society as well as why it is argued that pluralism cannot exist in its purest form.
Pluralists, such as Weber, believe that direct democracy is impractical in modern, complex societies and that representative democracy is the best way to ensure all interest are represented. Pluralism defines two key factors that ensure representation of all interest groups as competing political parties providing a choice of government policies and pressure groups influencing political decisions. Pluralists view the state as necessary to maintain democracy by promoting political liberty. For example, freedom of speech and holding regular free elections provides everyone in society with the opportunity to express their opinion on political issues. Hence Britain, from this perspective can be categorized as a pluralist society as it conforms to all of the above criteria.
Pluralism in its purest form would consist of all of the different interest of society being equally represented by political parties and pressure groups involved in decision making. Pluralists, such as Dahl, view those making or influencing decisions as having power, therefore pluralism in its purest form would mean that power is divided amongst several groups rather than being monopolised by one.
There are however several criticisms of pluralism. By simply viewing power as held by those making decisions, as in Lukesâ€™ first face of power, pluralism ignores the importance of the other faces of power; setting the agenda and manipulating the views of others. For example, it is argued that only government have power as they set the agenda and thus choose which issues are to be decided on so it is irrelevant who is then involved in the decision making.