Critique of Pluralist and Elite Models
Pluralist and elite models each make a unique contribution to our understanding of power. The pluralist model emphasizes that. many different groups, not just elected officials. compete for power and advantage in society. This model also shows how coalitions may shift. over time and how elected officials may be highly responsive to public opinion on some occasions. However. critics counter that extensive research evidence contradicts the notion' that the u.s. political system is pluralistic. They note instead that our system has the "veneer" of pluralism when. in fact. it is remarkably elitist for a society that claims to value ordinary peoples input (Domhoff 2002). For example, a wide disparity exists between the resources and political clout of "Big Business" when compared with those of interest groups that represent infants and children or persons with a disability. According to critics. consensus is difficult, if not impossible, in populations composed of people from different classes. religions. and racial-ethnic and age groups.
Mills's power-elite model highlights the interrelationships of the economic, political, and military sectors of society and makes us aware that the elite may be a relatively cohesive group. Similarly, Dornhoff ruling-class model emphasizes the role of elites in setting and implementing policies that benefit the capitalist class. Power Elite models call our attention to a central concern in contemporary U.S. society: the ability of democracy and its ideals to survive in the context of the increasingly concentrated power