Left and Right

Theories of Political Power: Pluralism, Elite, Hyperpluralism

This is a very, very basic high school level overview of different theories of how the state actually works in terms of the distribution of power. Unfortunately, most Americans do not have even a high school level education in the social sciences and political science (they have more like a fourth-grade education which I don’t think is accidental). Most “system-critical” social scientists are elite theorists while “system-friendly” social scientists tend to be pluralists. The “hyperpluralist” view tends to be implicitly popular, ironically, among those who are big on “activist government” (expanding the welfare state) and feel that “gridlock” and “partisanship” get in the way, and among “conservatives” who lament that “special interest groups” interfere with “governing” (i.e. letting the plutocracy and military-industrial-complex do whatever it wants).

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