The debate is whether one society can truly have one structure of power that lasts over time and this essay will agree with the pluralists, that power is ever-changing and elite domination can at best only be fleeting and temporary. However, this essay will also argue that this is not just down to the issue of power, but elite domination is also a flawed theory, in that history shows it fails in practice. It should be made clear that there is no universal understanding of pluralism and therefore it is difficult to generalise all pluralists as having one understanding of the definition of pluralism. The same can be said for power; Walter Gallie (1956) describes power as an “essentially contested concept.” Gallie means that different thinkers cannot agree on one particular definition of power. However, for the purpose of this essay I will be using the definition that government can only have true, legitimate power when it has the support of its people. First this essay will evaluate the meaning of power and pluralism, how the use of interest groups makes power easily adaptable. Then I will evaluate elitism and how it fails to last as a structure of power by itself making it at best only fleeting and temporary.
Pluralists believe that no structure of power is stable over time as there is no single, correct way to govern; different frameworks will work at different periods of time and for different nation states. There is no “single unified and universal body of knowledge” in pluralism (Hay, 2006; 21). Pareto believed that elitism is essential to a society as only competent elites can govern the people who are controlled by their own irrational emotions (Pareto, 1916). However, while many argue that there is evidence of elite domination as a successful form of power in modern societies today, there is little to demonstrate this. It is hard to clearly define when a society is truly dominated by an elite regime. Pluralists argue that large inequalities in society do not prove the existence of elitism. The elitists would also justify something such as the redistribution of resources to the poorer members of society, an action that many would deem democratic and liberal, as a way of stabilizing society in the interests of the elite (Dryzek & Dunleavy, 2009; 77). Power is always changing and many citizens want an equal political voice, which is clearly demonstrated through interest groups. Elite domination is unable to be anything but fleeting and temporary, especially in modern societies today where the power is widely dispersed with many sources of governance.
No government can have true power unless it has the consent of its people; a society governed by elites may have some form of control but it can never have true power without the support of its people and that would be unlikely as elitism and democracy are incompatible. This is because democracy literally means rule by the people and elitism means rule by the minority, they are total...