Which is correct, the power elite view or the pluralist view?Which is correct, the power elite view or the pluralist view?
My gut instinct would be to suggest that both neither view is entirely correct and that both views are probably over-simplifications. It almost always turns out that generalizations, especially about society, are too simplistic and that the facts are more complex than the generalizations would suggest.
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I cannot really agree with either of these views. Of the two, I think that pluralism is closer to being accurate in the United States today. However, I share Schattschneider's view that the "heavenly chorus" that the pluralists talk about "sings with a strong upper-class accent."
While Mills' view of a power elite may have been accurate when he wrote, I do not believe it is true any longer. I do not think that the various elites of the business world and the political world and the military world are as interconnected as they may have been in the 1950s. I think our society is too large and open for that to be the case any more.
However, pluralism is a little bit naive as well. There is no way that all groups have equal access to the political system. Those groups that have money and power will have a much better chance at influencing the system on most issues than their opponents who have less money and power. Therefore, the "playing field" is nowhere near as level as scholars like Robert Dahl might argue.
So, I would argue that the power elite idea is outdated and that the pluralist idea is closer to the truth. However, I would argue that the pluralist model fails to recognize the advantages held by those interest groups that are rich and powerful.
I think one of the dangers of most political or economic or philosophical discussions is the tendency to assume that one policy can cover all the variables and answer all the questions. In my humble opinion, such an assumption is seriously wrong. Oversimplifying the situation certainly makes the debate easier to conduct, but it doesn't truly address all the variables that do impact the situation and that need to be dealt with when seeking a "correct" solution.
There are positive and negative aspects of both the outlooks you suggest, as outlined by post 2.
Many critics have recently drawn attention to the way in which any one view of an event is going to be partial and biased. True objectivity, postmodernists tell us, is an unattainable illusion, and we must all be aware of our own prejudice and the prejudice of others when trying to form a view on something. Thus both views have their benefits, but also their disadvantages.
There really is no way to suggest that either is correct. However, when we start talking about elites we are giving some people preferential treatment over others. That is not very fair, because the only thing that makes them elite is usually because they are born into privilege and money.