The Elite and Pluralist Approach to Governance

Topics: Policy, Decision making, Decision theory Pages: 6 (2201 words) Published: November 18, 2012
This essay seeks to explain the Elitist and Pluralist approaches to governance and advance both positive and negative sides for each approach. It shall begin by defining the major terms/ concepts Governance, Elitist and Pluralist. The essay shall then explain in detail the two approaches respectively. Then it shall highlight the positives (merits) and negatives (demerits) for each approach. Finally the essay shall give a conclusion based on the main points of the essay. Governance is the activity or process of making policy decisions and implementing them or the ability of government to create and implement public policy. It describes the mechanisms government uses to ensure that the citizenly follow and abide by its established policies and laws. Elitist comes from the term elite which refers to a few selected individuals who dominate in a political system, have too much power concentrated in their hands to govern society because of their ability and greater organizational capacity, wealth, social origin or achievements. The Elitist approach is a conflict theory based on the belief according Aristotle that some people are meant to rule and others to be ruled. The rulers are those few individuals who get to the top by virtue of their superior quality. Cox, A. (1985; pg 107) Pluralist comes from the term plural which refers to, “more than one or consisting of more than one”. And pluralism is a theory that reality is composed of a plurality of entities of society. Here the basic ideas of government are seen through the ideas of individuals and groups to ensure that all the needs and wants of society are taken care of. There is no right or wrong idea: everyone’s ideas are valid. Having defined the main terms, we can now look at the two approaches in detail. In the first place, these models were developed in view of making government policies. Society exhibits various aspects of behavior that can cause anarchy in society and as such, need to be controlled and guided by state policies. Therefore, the elitist and pluralist approaches to governance were developed in this view to enable governments make policy decision intended to control and guide the various aspects of society behavior. The Elitist approach to governance argues that power within society is highly concentrated in the hands of a few individuals whom by virtue of their position in society have a monopoly of influence. Because of the powers that they wield, the elitist make most of the important decisions for society. The Elite theory is based on two ideas: 1. Power lies in position of authority in key economic and political institutions and 2. The psychological difference that sets Elites apart is that they have personal resources, such as intelligence and skills, and a vested interest in government, while the rest are incompetent and do not have the capabilities of governing themselves; the elite are resourceful and will strive to make the government work. For in reality the elite have the most to lose in a failed government. Even though these individuals institute a close-knit group, they are not part of a conspiracy that secretly manipulates events in their own selfish interest. For the most part, the elite respects civil liberties, follows established constitutional principles, and their operations are open to the public and are peaceful. It is not a dictatorship and does not rely on terror. Bottomore, T. (1993) & Cox, A.(1985; pg 114).

The Elite can be sub-divided into two categories: the political elite and the civil elite. The political elite are the elected officials who are given the political mandate by the electorate in a society, for instance; the President, members of parliament, councilors, etc. The public’s participation in election process legitimates both the candidates and their mandate to rule. However, once they assume power, they are driven to remain in power and run the affairs of the country independently. This implies that the public is...
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