Various theories have been postulated in concern to the distribution of power within the society, and among them include the

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Various theories have been postulated in concern to the distribution of power within the society, and among them include the elitist and pluralist theories. The two are different as their ideologies tend to conflict with each other. Pluralist theory asserts that all those who tend to participate in power belong to the same status and therefore are equal with regards to power, rights, and possessions. On the other hand, elitist theory takes a different angle explaining that the privileged or the elite class have the right to take power due to the apparent superiority granted to them through their success (Takata, 2016). According to this definition, pluralism is, therefore, a form of government characterized by the minority groups retaining their independent cultural traditions while elitism is a society that is domineered by the elite in power.

The pluralist theory has no concern on material power as everyone is equal in the society, and based on this theory, power can be in many forms that include religious, political, or the persuasive power. Pluralism can be distributed to all members of the society in an equal way, and no person has greater of lesser say in the institution that the other. The theory further suggests that nobody has control over the social contract as everyone possesses an equal portion of the social contract. The pluralist theory challenges the ideas of how to govern as well as the need for a ruler to oversight the system as it lays arguments that there should be no system leave alone the head of the system at any point.

Elitism, on the other hand, is contrasted to pluralism in that it dwells more on material power (Domhoff, 2017). The theory claims that the people who have resources or the privileged ones must be successful and at the same time be rightful rulers. The reason why the theory claims so is that it questions the reason why the material possession got to be owned by the few individuals claiming that they are more superior, and this makes superiority be the holding ground for the elitist theory. In addition, the theory assumes that any person who has achieved should be of a higher mental capacity than the less privileged and therefore, are assumed to be worthy of taking the position of power. To the elitists, they assume that people are common because they lack superiority and thus, they should pave the way for the privileged to assume the positions of power.

In contrast to the pluralist theory that does not favor governance and positions of power, elitism recognizes the need for governorship among the people in the society as well as the positions of power and in respect to this, they propose that, they the elites should rule as they have a lot of material power and claim that they have the most to lose in the event that they are unsuccessful if they fail to take the positions of power in the social contract. Elitism argues that if the elites or those who have material power are allowed to rule, the society will be orderly because the elites will keep it together in order so that they are able to sustain their foothold in the society (Wrong, 2017).

Another main difference between pluralism and elitism is held in the decision making. In pluralism, the individuals who are entrusted with decision-making positions are in constant movements, moving in and out of power and therefore there is a possibility of inconsistencies in decision making, which makes it hard to retain control of the government or the society. On the other hand, elitism is different, people who make decisions are always at the top and the masses are uninformed (Carlton, 2017), and therefore, a command chain is followed in both decision making and implementation.


Carlton, E. (2017). The few and the Many: A Typology of Elites. Routledge.

Domhoff, G. W. (2017). The power elite and the state. Routledge.

Takata, Y. (2016). Power theory of economics. Springer.

Wrong, D. (2017). Power: Its forms, bases and uses. Routledge.