Over time, sociologists have realised the flaws in Classical Pluralism; even Dahl himself conceded that the unequal distribution of wealth in the US makes equality and plurality in politics impossible. It was as a result of these criticisms that David Marsh (1985) created the theory of elite pluralism.
Elite pluralists agree with classical pluralists that there is “plurality” of power, however this plurality is not “pure” as some people and groups have more power than others. For example,some people have more money than others, so they can pay to have their opinion put across better (i.e. more advertising) than the working class can. This inequality is because society has “elites”; people who have more power, perhaps through money, inheritance or social tradition than others.
Evaluation of elite pluralism
+ Elite pluralism provides some answers to criticisms of classical pluralism, especially the main criticism, by acknowledging that the elite often have more power
– Is it really “pluralist” if it says there are elites and inequality
– Similarly to classical pluralism, elite pluralism fails to recognise Lukes third face of power