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A2 Unit 1 - Power and Politics

3) Classical Pluralism

The Classical Pluralist views of power are based upon the work of Weber. The basic idea of this view is that because anyone can have power because they can all have their voice heard, so any one can win an argument. Pluralists such as Dahl disagree with Marxists who believe there is a direct link between power and wealth, Pluralists think that everyone has an equal amount of power regardless of social stature, it is merely the person who wins the “issue” that has the power.

Evaluation of Classical Pluralism

+ The work of Dahl (1961) and Hewitt (1974) supports this theory

+ Pressure groups do have an effect, for example Greenpeace have dramatically changed the way we view the environment. As anyone can join a pressure group does this mean we have plurality?

Classical Pluralism measures power by the “Issue Method”, who makes the decisions, however what about if someone gains power without even having to come to a decision or have an argument? (Lukes ‘second face of power)

Classical Pluralism also fails to consider that people might accept decisions which are against their own will, meaning that whilst it might appear there is plurality, actually one person is clearly exercising power in manipulating the wishes of others (Lukes’ third face of power)

Overloading the Government – If we assume Plurality then the government must listen to the views and opinions of everybody, this would lead wasting government time on the less important issues and make government extremely impractical and inefficient.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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