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Elite Theory 1. A “stable” group: The economic elite model posits a unified and wealthy class of individuals possessing a dominant influence during numerous.

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Presentation on theme: "Elite Theory 1. A “stable” group: The economic elite model posits a unified and wealthy class of individuals possessing a dominant influence during numerous."— Presentation transcript:

1 Elite Theory 1. A “stable” group: The economic elite model posits a unified and wealthy class of individuals possessing a dominant influence during numerous decision points in the policy process and remaining uninhibited by any larger social or political influences (Gonzalez, 2001). 2. Impermeable: 3. Apathetic Citizens: Argues that democracy functions when you have a degree of apathy, and elites are the ones participating the most (voting, running for office). 4. Identifiable/Cohesive Elite

2 Pluralism -Understand American society to be composed of a complex set of groups and it is the competition and bargaining among and between these many groups that is the essence of the political process. -When we, as individuals, want to influence politics and policy, we generally do not do it on an individual basis. -Any and all groups in society can have their views heard and considered at some point in the policymaking process. -The government acts merely as a referee over the group competition and declares the winner (by rewarding them with policy or policy influence). -According to pluralist theory, political resources are diffuse and therefore a variety of interest groups have an opportunity to utilize these resources and compete with other interest groups for policy attention.

3 Who Governs?: Robert Dahl: Robert Dahl conducted a study of New Haven, Connecticut, and was interested in “Who Governs?” Dahl found that New Haven was once an elitist city. But, over time it gave way to pluralism, such that different groups were active in different policy areas. Even within a policy area, there were competing groups. Nonetheless, it was organized interests that drove the policy process. Dahl’s theory rests on five assumptions: –people know their interests –people collectively organize to further their interests, –equal access to political institutions exists across groups, –the government represents those interests, –and the outcome of government action reflects the inputs of interests.

4 The Urban Regime Definition: The informal arrangements by which public bodies and private interests function together in order to be able to make and carry out governing decisions Critical Questions: (1) who makes up the governing coalition? (2) How is coming together [cooperation] accomplished?

5 The Importance of Informal Arrangements

6 The participants Participants: influenced by two basic institutional principles of American political economy: (1) popular control of the formal machinery of government and (2) private ownership of business enterprise What does this mean?

7 Cooperation within the Regime Why do we need cooperation? –Business elites need government authority for some projects. Examples? –Public needs the slack resources that businesses have. Achieving cooperation is a major accomplishment and requires constant effort

8 How is cooperation done? Rational Choice/Game theory Tit for Tat (repeated interactions) Selective Incentives (preventing free-riders) Factors in the success of cooperation: Culture: language, common identity Size: larger groups harder to form

9 Ramifications of Unequal Resources “Votes count but resources decide” Which groups will be included in the “governing coalition”? The Atlanta Case? San Francisco? Detroit?

10 Implications of Regime Theory The importance of looking beyond election results when we seek to find out who governs. Business elite occupy a privileged position in the regime


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