Government and Politics

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under which other groups and classes must operate. Consequently, although the ruling class may lose on a particular issue, it will not allow serious challenges to laws which guarantee its economic privileges and political domination. Pluralist Model Several social scientists have questioned the elite models of power relations proposed by Marx, Mills, Domhoff, and other conflict theorists.

Quite simply, the critics insist that power in the United States is more widely shared than the elite model indicates. In their view, a pluralist model more accurately describes the American political system. According to the pluralist model, "many conflicting groups within the community have access to government officials and compete with one another in an effort to influence policy decisions".

Veto Groups. David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd suggested that the American political system could best be understood through examination of the power of veto groups. The term veto groups refers to interest groups that have the capacity to prevent the exercise of power by others.

Functionally, they serve to increase political participation by preventing the concentration of political power. Examples cited by Riesman include farm groups, labor unions, professional associations, and racial and ethnic groups. Whereas Mills pointed to the dangers of rule by an undemocratic power elite, Riesman insisted that veto groups could effectively paralyze the nation’s political processes by blocking anyone from exercising needed leadership functions.

In Riesman’s words, "The only leaders of national scope left in the United States are those who can placate the veto groups". Dahl’s Study of Pluralism. Community studies of power have also supported the pluralist model.

One of the most famous—an investigation of decision making in New Haven, Connecticut—was reported by Robert Dahl in his book, Who Governs? (1961). Dahl found that while the number of people involved in any important decision .

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