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Unformatted text preview: We live in a plutocratic society. Those in power, elected or otherwise, share wealth as a common thread; the notion of true ‘political outsiders’ is slowly going the way of the buffalo. Those who are able to harness a relevant degree of power in society must have already accrued enough wealth to gain the respect necessary for support. This support comes from the public, but, more importantly, it also comes from the wealthy interest groups. In examing the work of Dahl, Domhoff, Hunter, Wilson, et al., a trend emerges: at every level of politics, be it local, state, or federal, the strongest force is the almighty dollar. In Who Governs? Robert Dahl poses several interesting questions, and sets out to explain them by examining New Haven, CT- not exactly an objective observation considering that Mr. Dahl is still a professor at Yale University. Dahl, already being a pluralist, conveniently observes a pluralist form of government; one where people from many different groups hold varying degrees of power. Those nominated and then elected to hold office may come from one of any one of these groups. Dahl’s method begin with establishing the criteria of exactly constitutes a ‘wealthy notbale’, and what exactly constitutes a ‘social notable.’ Once these definitions are established, he then uses three specific areas of public interest, to determine the level of political involvement each person in these groups have. What he ‘finds’ seems contrary to common belief: he finds that the wealthy elite are as socially connected as previously thought. He also finds that those who are part of a business elite- entrepreneurs, major owners, corporate representatives- are sually only directly involved with issue that pertain to commerce in New Haven. They generally tend to be hands off when dealing with other issues, such as public education. Dahl finds that the most powerful entity in New Haven is the mayor and his administration. Mayor Richard C. Lee is responsible for the boom in New Haven’s urban redevelopment program; he appoints those who form education policy. His election was the people of New Haven “registering a preference for the general direction in which government policy should move.” In the end, public policy is created by the hand of the mayor and his administration. But Dahl’s pluralistic view is entirely too idealistic. He ignores the assurances of his predecessors, Trocqueville and Bryce, that there are “great inequalities in the capacities of different citizens to influence the decisions of their various governments.” (p3). Furthermore, there are obvious flaws throughout his study, which are singled out and virtually corrected by G. William Domhoff in his essay “Who Rules America Now?...
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course POLS 120 taught by Professor Dr.brent during the Winter '08 term at San Jose State.
- Winter '08