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A2 Unit 1 – Power and Politics

This category contains 12 posts

12) Other forms of political participation

We know that political participation through voting has decreased over the years, with an extremely low voter turnout of 59.3% in the 2001 elections. However, this doesn’t mean that political participation overall has decreased. This is because there are many different alternative forms of political participation, of which many are becoming more popular. One example … Continue reading

11)Political participation through voting

The UK is a representative democracy. This means people vote to elect someone to make decisions on their behalf, representing their desires and needs, in the UK these people are MPs. If the voters don’t feel they are represented well then they can be voted out at the next election. In this way the public … Continue reading

10) Views of the State

Weber defined the state as being 3 key things: The State is created by people The State can use force legitimately The State rules over a geographical area, for example the UK The role and power of the State is highly debated amongst sociologists, with a great variety of opinion surrounding it. The Pluralist views … Continue reading

9) Feminist views of power

The feminist view of power is relatively simple; they believe that power in society is unequally, and unjustly, balanced towards men. Feminists say this leads to the discrimination of women, with men using their power to control women’s lives. Many feminists separate the power men have over women into two “spheres”, the public and the … Continue reading

8) Post-structuralist approaches to power

All the perspectives we have looked at so far say power can be understood by examining the structures in society. For example, Marxists say power can be understood by the type of economic base in a society. However, Foucault claims power lies outside of these structures. He instead said that power operates in discourses rather than structures. … Continue reading

7) Neo-Marxist perspective on power

Neo-Marxism is built upon the Marxist idea that the superstructure of the state determines who has the power. However, the neo-Marxists Gramsci said that the superstructure is divided into two distinct sections, the civil and political societies. The political society is made up of institutions that rule by force such as the police and the … Continue reading

6) Marxist perspective of power

Karl Marx said there is a limited amount of power in society, which can only be only be held by one person or group at a time.  Marx said these “groups” are the working and ruling classes. Under capitalism the ruling class hold all the power and use it to exploit the working class. This … Continue reading

5) Elite Theory

Elite theory rejects the plurality that classical and elite pluralism proposes. Instead Elite theory says there is a small group of “power elites” who hold a very large percentage of power in society. Classical elite theory was the work of Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923), it states than there will always be this inequality of wealth, in every society due to … Continue reading

4) Elite Pluralism

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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading