Ruling Elite Theories and Research Methods : An Evaluation.
An assessment of theories and research techniques in the study of political influence, undertaken in the belief that much political analysis rests on impressionistic assertions about the power of visible elements such as the military and the economic "oligarchy." There are three important schools of elite analysis. (1) Marxist: "In all pre-socialist societies the economic elites constitute the ruling element." (2) Stratification theorists: "The single community power is the upper class, to which political and civic leaders are subordinate, which rules in its own interest, and is in conflict with the other classes." (3) Pluralists: "Nothing categorical can be assumed about power in any community, but influence is usually specialized rather than general." Each of the schools can be broadly identified with a research technique. Marxists use a "historical-deductive" approach. Stratification theorists rely heavily on "influence-reputation." Pluralists concentrate on analysis of the decisionmaking process and participants. Pluralist criticism of the other two schools is valid, but the technique of decisionmaking analysis has intrinsic difficulties to be overcome. 31 pp. (CD)