In this first "real" week of class, we have a very ambitious agenda and explores the work and critiques of two major theorists of American politics. Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom developed their concept of pluralism in Who Governs? and Polyarchy, among other works. Manley nicely summarizes Dahl and Lindblom's theory before providing his own critique of their argument. The Power Elite can be viewed as a direct response and critique of pluralism, yet it is also an independent theory worthy of discussion and debate in its own right.
All of the journal articles in this week's readings are extremely dense with ideas. I found them very difficult to understand at first, partly because I took the wrong approach to reading them. If you attempt to read them at the same speed as you would a novel, or even a relatively sophisticated magazine article, you will likely miss many of the key ideas. I encourage you to read them slowly and multiple times in order to get a firmer grasp of these complex, but important, pieces. The Mills chapters are somewhat more straightforward than the other pieces.
What do Dahl and Lindblom mean by "pluralism?" What are the key elements of their theory of politics?
Why is the shift from "cumulative to dispersed inequalities," a concept he outlines in detail in Who Governs?, critical for Dahl's theory of pluralism?
What is the "the power elite" referred to by Mills? What is the source of their high degree of influence and control over American politics according to Mills?
What are the key differences between Dahl's pluralist theory and Mills's elite theory?
Why does Manley believe that pluralism fails to account for "the reality of political and economic equality in the United States?"
Do you find Lindblom's and Dahl's responses to Manley's critiques of their work compelling?
What are Bachrach and Baratz's major criticisms of elite theory?
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