Pluralism (Political Science)

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  • A theoretical model in which various interest groups compete for influence in politics. Proponents of pluralism stress that this competition prevents any one group from exerting its dominance. Detractors note that the inequities of resources between interest groups places society's elites at a distinct advantage. The political theorist Robert J. Waste, in Community Power: Directions for Future Research (1986), identified four patterns of pluralism:

    • Classical pluralism: This ideal model of governance only works in a society with a small population. Policy making occurs in a public arena and is open to all indi viduals, who hold a diverse set of interests, to participate through debate and discussion. The citizens vote on negotiated legislation and agree to obey its terms.
    • Hyperpluralism: This is a system in which the ...

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