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Elite TheoryClassical Elite Theory
1) Very critical of democracy and
socialism (egalitarian ideas). It
feels they go against human
nature. We are unequal.
2) Elite rule is desirable as it
reflects the in equality of human
nature. Power is in the hands of
a wise or enlightened minority.
Against the vote for all.
3) Elite rule is inevitable even
after a revolution (some needs
to be in charge). All that
changes is the composition if the
4) Iron law of Oligarchy.
Democracy in society disguises
oligarchy. A Direct democracy
still isn't a democracy as there
has to be someone who over
5) Very pessimistic about
Power Elite Theory
1) Explains elite rule in the
hope of changing it.
2) 3 elite positions:
business elite, political elite
and the military elite.
These are all highly inter
connected, forming a
unified system of power.
3) These elites are of a
similar back ground and
have the same ideology.
4) Revolving door theory,
all can move from one elite
to the other.
5)The two main political
parties still have elitist
leaders, with similar ideas.
6) Elite rule isn't inevitable,
but is down to political and
Evaluation of Power Elite Theory
-Lack of evidence to support Mills theory of the power
-There is only demonstration of potential for control, not
-Marxists argue that power derives from the ownership
of the means of production in capitalist societies.
Evaluation of Classical Elite Theory
-Doesn’t make distinctions between the different types of political
systems. They are all regarded as oligarchs.
-No criteria is described as to what we can measure the elites by.
-It just assumes they are the elites and the masses are under them.
Sociologists to use:
Mills- writer of the power elite; defines 3 levels, business,
political and military and shows how they are inter connected.
Pareto- two psychological types of leaders. foxes (cunning)
and lions (dominators)
Mosca- in all society two classes appear, a class that is ruled
and a class that rules.
Michels- iron law of oligarchy- tendency for all organisations
to be oligarch.
Burnham- argued that a ‘managerial class’ dominated all
industrial societies, both capitalist and communist, by virtue of
its technical and scientific knowledge and its administrative
Jarecki- When you look at what keeps the contracts going
and the policies in place It’s not two links, it’s three. It’s the
military, and industry, and Congress. And these together
form the basis for the national security policy of the United
Phillips and Moore- document the special relationship
between the president, the economic organisations, uncritical
mass media and the political embellishment in America.