William Domhoff and the Ruling Class

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William Domhoff and the Ruling Class

Sociologist G. Wuliam Domhoff (2002) asserts that this nation in fact has a roiling class-the corporate rich. who constitute less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. Domhoff uses the term rutting class to signify a relatively fixed group of privileged people who wield power sufficient to constrain political processes and serve underlying capitalist interests. Although the power elite controls the everyday operation of the political system, who governs is less important than who rules.

Like Mills. Domhoff asserts that individuals in the upper echelon are members of a business class based on the ownership and control of large corporations.  The intertwining of the upper class and the corporate community produces economic and social cohesion. Economic interdependence among members of the ruling class is rooted in common stock ownership and is visible in interlocking corporate directorates that serve as a communications network (Domhoff, 2002).

Members of the ruling class are also socially linked through exclusive clubs, expensive private schools and debutante parties for their children, and listings in the Social Register (an address book for upper-class families in major metropolitan areas). According to Domhoff (2002). the corporate rich influence the political process in three ways. First. they affect the candidate selection process by helping to finance campaigns and providing favors to political candidates. Second, through participation in the special interest process, the corporate rich are able to obtain favors. tax breaks, and favorable regulatory rulings. Finally. the corporate rich gain access to the policy-making process through their appointments to governmental advisory committees, presidential commissions, arid other governmental positions. Today. some members of the ruling class influence international politics through their involvement in banking. business services. and law firms that have a strong interest in overseas sales. investments. or raw materials extraction.

Clearly, owners of some media conglomerates would be classified in Domhoff's power elite. Consider. for example. journalist Ken Auletta discussion with Rupert Murdock. head of News Corporation the conglomerate that owns over a hundred newspapers worldwide, major movie studios, publishing interests. the Fox TV network, and numerous cable channels-about the enormous growth of Murdock's media empire: