Essay A

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The structure of power in society is a vital part of understanding sociology. The two main theories that differentiate this structure are Mills’ theory of a power elite and Riesman’s contrasting theory of veto groups, or pluralism. Both theories are often found in varying degrees when considering important public decisions, such as the Hoover Redevelopment Plan or the University Village Plan. Generally, one of these theories is more applicable and relevant to certain public decisions and developments depending on the issue. While both of these theories played a part in the Hoover Redevelopment Plan and the University Village Plan, the power elite theory is ultimately more responsible for the institution of these developments. The premise of Mills’ theory revolves around a group at the top of the hierarchy called the power elite. This is a group that consists of military officials, top government representatives, and the top corporate executives. Underneath this authoritative group is a middle class, or a middle level of power. These are the people that work in Congress and other middle level interest groups. Below them are the masses, a group that possesses little to no power in society and are essentially manipulated by those above them. The power elite makes all of the important public decisions, especially those dealing with foreign policies. The power elite is united not only because of their communal desire for wealth and dominance, but also their mutual religious beliefs, education, and other social interests amongst their institutions. If we accept this theory of a small, all-powerful force of government, than democracy in society would either be very weak or nonexistent. Reisman’s theory involves only two main levels of... ... middle of paper ... ...nts, which USC has dealt with more sensitively than with the Hoover redevelopment. A coalition known as UNIDAD (United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement) has been very involved in this issue. Residents worried that after a drastic remodeling of the area, their rents would raise exponentially, forcing them to seek more affordable housing options elsewhere. Although USC offered a 2 million dollar contribution to aid low-income housing, UNIDAD demanded they provide a minimum of 20 million dollars, temporarily delaying the start of the project. USC agreed to meet their demands, satisfying both parties in the situation. This instance of the residents and members of UNIDAD defending their interests is exemplary of a veto group. The decision and realization of this plan, however, is indicative of the power elite exercising control, but in a more democratic fashion.

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