Essay Sample on Social Class and Political Power

Published: 2024-01-06
Essay Sample on Social Class and Political Power
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Political science Government Society
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1149 words
10 min read


One of the interpretations about the relationship between social class and the distribution and uses of political power is the basis of divisible and indivisible benefits that individuals or groups receive from political leaders' actions. Dahl argues that politicians' approaches are designed to particular deliberate benefits on certain individuals and that eventually grants them the support of the whole group. Dahl also emphasizes that class politics can be considered ethnic politics in disguise because the politicians who engage in ethnic politics deliberate personal benefits such as jobs, gratuities, or even aid of various types according to ethnic category (Dahl 76). Therefore, political power is distributed and used in that certain benefits are assigned to some individuals, for instance, jobs, welfare payments, and even contracts, which are examples of divisible benefits. However, other benefits that are indivisible, like foreign policies or public amenities, are not allocated to specific individuals because if one person benefits from them, so do the rest.

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An example is that a socialist politician who strongly campaigned against the frustrations experienced by members of the working class within a capitalist system is likely to gain political value amongst working classes. Therefore, the socialist political candidate seeks the working class's support by addressing issues such as the economy and public honesty, among other factors that affect the working class and thus serve the indivisible benefit to every member of the social class. Generally, I agree with this interpretation because, just like ethnic politics, class politics also implies that a politician gets attention from the members of a particular class by attending to their challenges and serving them with benefits. Divisible benefits are often served with individuals who influence the other members of the class. In contrast, in other cases, politicians serve indivisible benefits like addressing economic issues that affect the middle class.

My answer is that politicians' changes can be examined and recognized if they only address the working class, or they are dynamic across classes and by identifying the pattern of class differentiation in politics. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that class, unlike ethnics, is a political concern category rather than competition (Kendall). Therefore, my answer is based on the fact that politics always comprise of individuals who emerge from small activist groups from whom national leadership is established. For instance, some social activists have emerged to national political positions from small activist groups fighting for the economy's sustainability and even fairness to the middle and working-class members. Dahl gives an example of the mayoralty ballot cast of 1947 in which the socialist candidate achieved unexpected popularity (Dahl 77). Hence, the failures of socialist in politics are affected by the differences in ethnic classes.

Ethnicity and Political Power

One of the interpretations of the relationship between ethnicity and the distribution of political power, according to Dahl, is the fact that ethnicity has resulted in the politics of assimilation other than being a politics of reforms. He also emphasizes that ethnicity has also resulted in politics that emphasize the divisive instead of voters' unifying aspects even though it is played upon the yearnings for integrations and acceptance. Dahl also emphasizes that political leaders join forces with their ethnic supporters to use the political system to eliminate the inadequacies associated with ethnic identity instead of reducing disadvantages resulting from the distribution of resources by the existing socioeconomic order (Dahl 63). Therefore, politicians associate with ethnics only to influence the votes of ethnic groups so that he can overcome his initial political weakness. Accordingly, this interpretation of the relationship between political power and ethnicity emphasizes how ethics are used by politicians taking advantage of their desire for ethnic prestige hence justifying the distribution of political duties within ethnic groups.

One example of this interpretation of the relationship between political power and ethnicity is how politicians have used their influence to take the initiative and make it easy for immigrants to become citizens and even encouraging them to register, thus putting them on party rolls. The politicians even support the ethnic to meet the several specific challenges that result from their poor conditions and low living standards. The politicians even strive to reward the ethnics with city job opportunities to obtain and maintain votes from the ethnic groups (Kendall). Therefore, I agree with this interpretation of Dahl regarding ethnicity and distribution of political power. Political assimilation of ethics has become a new venture of ethnic politics. Politicians who embrace ethnic politics devise new approaches, new coalitions, and new issues to ensure they retain their political power positions.

Ethnic assimilation, as an approach to the distribution of political power, is often used as a persuasion strategy. It has been considered a suitable approach because it provides a bridge to the shared values and value differences associated with the national origins and experiential conditions of ethnics. Therefore, ethnic assimilation is one of the interpretations of the ethnic distribution of political power. The mutual similarity in ethnics is that they have common underlying challenges that can infiltrate their political consent (Dahl 63). A specific example is that ethnic classes such as Indians and even Black Americans have mutual similarities based on the challenges that they both face as ethnic groups, even though they are distinct and identifiable ethnic categories. Hence, propaganda approaches of ethnic assimilation such as rewards of city jobs or even making it easy for immigrants to become citizens infiltrate the common challenges for the ethnics and allow politicians to obtain and retain votes among the ethnic groups.

Critique of Who Governs?

Dahl's study implies that the local upper class was not established in the business community, which was passive and influential and emphasized the presence of inequalities in New Haven. Dahl illustrates an alternative approach for studying community power, and he shows that the actual use of power depends on how politicians use the resources at their disposal. Hence, politicians who potentially hold power operate majorly within areas they seem to have a vital interest; hence, individuals are limited by the competitive relationships between several power centers. Generally, "Who Govern?" is based on how it illustrates that despite the differences in power within a community, one can still conclude that individuals with power are without the need for societal support. For instance, Dahl evaluates the reasons for variations in the political resources that individuals command and emphasize objective conditions. The objective conditions that Dahl emphasizes transform from the need to control the desire to influence. For example, class politics involves committing to activities to enhance the influence of a particular class's subjects. Similarly, ethnic politics also involves seeking the influences of various ethnicities. Conversely, Dahl has not effectively illustrated that the idea of a power elite is complete without value.

Works Cited

Dahl, Robert A. Who governs?: Democracy and power in an American city. Yale University Press, 2005.

Kendall, Diana. "Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. ed." Belmont, CA, USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning (2008).

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