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PLURALIST THEORY

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Pluralism (political theory)
Classical pluralism is the view that politics and decision making are located mostly in the framework of government, but that many non-governmental groups use their resources to exert influence. The central question for classical pluralism is how power and influence is distributed in a political process. Groups of individuals try to maximize their interests. Lines of conflict are multiple and shifting as power is a continuous bargaining process between competing groups. There may be inequalities but they tend to be distributed and evened out by the various forms and distributions of resources throughout a population. Any change under this view will be slow and incremental, as groups have different interests and may act as "veto groups" to destroy legislation that they do not agree with.

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Political Economy Terms Dictionary

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Pluralist theory
The theoretical point of view held by many social scientists which holds that American politics is best understood through the generalization that power is relatively broadly (though unequally) distributed among many more or less organized interest groups in society that compete with one another to control public policy, with some groups tending to dominate in one or two issue areas or arenas of struggle while other groups and interests tend to dominate in other issue areas or arenas of struggle. There tends to be little overlap between those leaders who participate most influentially in one policy area and those who are influential in other policy areas, and what linkage there is tends to come from popularly elected political officials (especially political executives and party leaders) who, by the nature of their jobs, must exercise leadership (or act as brokers) in a number of different policy areas. There is no single, unified "power elite," but rather there are many competing power elites with differing backgrounds, values and bases of support in the broader society. Government tends to be depicted as a mechanism for mediating and compromising a constantly shifting balance between group interests rather than as an active innovator or imposer of policies upon society.
[See also: elite (elitist) theory , interest group , political party ]


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