What is Pluralism?
The concept of pluralism refers to the situation in which several non-governmental organizations and interest groups exercise power and influence on government’s decision making. The theory focuses on how power is politically distributed among various groups of people who try to maximize their interests. In this case, the pluralism movement advocates for the accommodation of varying views in decision making. According to Marsonet (2009), this framework promotes acquiescence rather than consensus, and enhances real democracy. Pluralism allows various factions to give up some of their interests to avoid losses or damages. The pluralism movement in America today is based on the idea that all people do not need to think alike because absolute consensus is not achievable in real life. Therefore, the American pluralism today entails recognizing the competing views and interests of other groups. The concept of pluralism is also a good model for American democracy because it allows different groups to give their opinions on public issues. Marsonet, M. (2009) also suggests that rivalry and competition benefit the society at large. However, the pluralism movement has the potential danger of promoting the interests of rich and powerful people at the expense of the poor and less powerful members of society.
In the American Madisonian democratic system today, administrative activities cannot be separated from politics (Durant, 2015). The American system of governance involves the overarching interests of different groups including elected officials, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, individuals, and private companies. In this regard, business people cannot be seen as non-partisans in American politics, but as part of the power distribution process. For example, in American court cases today, different interest groups are always required to present their views to influence the court rules. The decision of the executive government is not always final because various competing political groups interact in the decision making process, and each group has sufficient power to influence decision making.
The American pluralism movement has also been demonstrated through culture, race, and class in the recent past and today. For example, race has been understood in the recent past as an idea of varying ideologies that justify hierarchies in society (Reed Jr., 2016). Racial grouping in the American society has created an idea of underclass which refers to populations of particular races that are understood as culturally and behaviorally flawed. There is a significant relationship between race and class in the United States because some racial groups (especially the white) have been constructed as superior while colored races are seen as inferior groups. Thus, superior races have been part of the top order of things in society and politics. However, the pluralism movement has created a sense of independence which allows various racial groups to participate fully in the American society without foregoing their cultural beliefs and practices. For example, homeownership has been a racialized issue in New Orleans for several years; but recently blacks who had been excluded from property ownership were given the chance to own land and participate in elections (Reed Jr., 2016). Whipps (2014) suggests that diversity is an important value in the pluralism movement because it allows members of society to accommodate differences of culture, gender, and races.
In America today, different cultural groups have freedoms to exercise their cultures regardless of age, gender or race. Therefore, it is clear that the pluralism movement is an essential element of American society in terms of political, social and cultural aspects. As different interest groups pursue their unique interests, the society becomes more democratic, and the freedoms and liberties of individuals are respected.
Durant, R.F. (2015). Whither Power in Public Administration? Attainment, Dissipation, and Loss. Public Administration Review, 75(2) 206–218.
Marsonet, M. (2009). Pragmatism and Political Pluralism: Consensus and Pluralism. Academics – International Scientific Journal, 47-58.
Reed, Jr., A. (2016). The Post-1965 Trajectory of Race, Class, and Urban Politics in the United States Reconsidered. Labor Studies Journal, 41(3) 260-291.
Whipps, J. (2014). A Pragmatist Reading of Mary Parker Follett’s Integrative Process. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 50(3), 405-424.