Critically Assess the Pluralist and Marxist Views of the State

1554 Words7 Pages
Whilst pluralism and Marxism are said to have developed from liberalism and socialism respectively (through criticising or expanding on those ideologies) thereby both appearing on the left of the left-right economic scale, a great part of their theories are indeed notably different, if not completely in contrast with each other. However, if we look closely at these theories, the one similarity, often overlooked by critics, is the fact that both offer a critique of the state despite the fact that their views are opposing. In order to understand these views of state, it is important to first understand the fundamental views of both pluralism and Marxism. Only then can these views be assessed and finally compared with each other, thereby ascertaining which view is more apt within modern society.

Pluralism is essentially a theory in favour of distributing power equally amongst individuals rather than having power remain within the hands of one individual (Heywood, 2003; Schwarzmantel, 1994; Dunleavy and O’Leary, 1987; Crowder, 1994). This theory is predominantly associated with Robert Dahl, who had researched how the state behaves and amongst whom power is exercised in New Haven (Heywood, 2007; Dahl, 1961). However, it has been argued that this theory is too idealistic, and that it is impossible for there to be an equal distribution of power because realistically power is likely to only be exercised by a minority, as in accordance with the elitist view (Heywood, 2007; Schwarzmantel, 1994).

Marxism tends to focus more on the rights of the working class as opposed to all of society in the way that pluralism does. After all, the ideas and theories of Karl Marx are most commonly interpreted as a critique of capitalism where the mi...

... middle of paper ...

...(2010), ‘Democracy in a Pluralist Global Order: Corporate

Power and Stakeholder Representation’ in Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 24, No. 1,

pp 19-43

McLennan, G. (1989), Marxism, Pluralism and Beyond, Cambridge: Polity

Miliband, R. (1988), ‘Marx and the State’ in Bottomore, T. (ed), Interpretations of Marx, Basil

Blackwell: Oxford and New York, pp. 271-289

Newman, M. (2006), ‘Class, State and Democracy: Laski, Miliband and the Search for a

Synthesis’ in Political Studies, Vol. 54, No. 2, pp 328-348

Nicholls, D. (1975), The Pluralist State, London and Basingstoke: MacMillan

Schwarzmantel, J. (1994), The State in Contemporary Society, Hemel Hempstead:

Harvester Wheatsheaf

Smith, M. (2006), ‘Pluralism’ in Hay C., M. Lister, and D. Marsh (eds), The State: Theories

and Issues, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, pp 21-38

    More about Critically Assess the Pluralist and Marxist Views of the State

      Open Document