Theories of Power

Theories of Power
Elite & Power Elite
• Elitist Theory: Persons who possess a disproportionate
share of some valued resource (money, prestige, expertise)
– Class view: Emphasis the power of rich leaders of corporations
– Karl Marx People with economic control hold the power
– Max Weber Bureaucracy (developed in industrialized society)
runs like a machine out of the public view
• Power Elite Theory: American democracy is dominated by a
few top leaders, many of them wealthy or privately
powerful, who do not hold elected office
– C. Wright Mills People with economic/political control,
military leaders hold the power
• It’s a relatively small group of people & they all know each other
• Pluralist Theory: Idea that political resources
(money, prestige, expertise, access to mass
media) have become so widely distributed
that no single elite, no social class, no
bureaucratic arrangement, can control them
– Argued that there are so many governmental
institutions on the US that no single group can
dominate them or the political process
• Hyper-Pluralist Theory: Idea that so many
different groups of people hold power that no
one’s really in charge.
– Means that there’s no chance for real legislation
to happen