Robert Dahl (1961) suggested that modern societies are characterised by pluralism. This means that power is open to everybody and no one individual or group can have too much of it. Pluralism is also known as ‘democratic elitism’.
Abercrombie and Warde (2000) argue that pluralism is undermined in the UK for a number of reasons. Firstly, many people are not represented by political parties, pressure groups or trade unions. Women, young people and members of minority ethnic groups in particular are under-represented, and there are some sectors of the workforce that have very low rates of trade union membership.
Conversely, there are some groups that appear to be over-represented. Financial organisations in particular seem to be very well represented and this perhaps explains the government’s readiness to ‘bail bankers out’. Material on the bank bailouts could be investigating here with students being set the task of creating a time sequence of notes on this topic. A good starting point for information is here
Discover More Financial crisis: timeline
Abercrombie and Warde also suggest that some groups are not democratically organised as they are controlled by an oligarchy. This is something that has been associated with Kidscape
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Finally, they point out that there is evidence that some institutions in the UK are run by an ‘old boys network’ of, for example, ex-Etonians and Bullingdon Club members. Information on the Bullingdon Club and its members is covered here
Discover More General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club
Discover More Bullingdon Club: inside the elite Oxford society
Also “The Riot Club” film makes good end-of-term viewing.
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