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re going to wrap up our discussion of historical conflict theory by talking a little little bit about elite theory. Elite theory is a subset of conflict theories. And so still addresses those key questions about how conflict and competition work with regard to groups in society.
But elite theory specifically hones in on the roles that people have with regard to the class structure in society. So there are several prominent theorists in elite theory. And most of them would agree on these basic premises first only a small number of people can have authority in any group at any given moment in time this means that the majority of people in a society arent going to have power.
The power is going to be held in the hands of just a few elites. The second characteristic of elite theory is that those in authority are always going to be opposed to those with no authority and this discuss is really at its core. How elites are always going to try and protect their interests.
The third characteristic that elites share is a common culture. They also are organized groups so they have regular meetings. If you will to help determine the trajectory or the path.
They are all going to take together to protect their interest and they will finally the fifth characteristic.
They will act together to defend their position. So elite theory is talking about how a small group of people in a society. Have the ability to determine the trajectory of the society and therefore the conditions under which the members of that society will have to exist in function.
So i want to touch just on some of the more prominent elite theorists and some of their essential works. The first theorist that i want to discuss is perrito and i want to talk about his concept of the perrito principle now in the last few years. Weve all heard a lot about what we call the 8020 rule.
20 of the population has 80 percent of the wealth. Well perrito was the person who came up with that idea. He was an economist in the late 1800s early 1900s and he made a lot of substantial contributions.
But this is probably the one that we recognize as the most obvious. The pareto principle or the 8020 principle. Mosca said that politics dominates.
All other spheres.
So he takes a little bit of a path away from marx here. Where marx said that stratification and economics are the most important characteristics mosca would have said that politics dominates everything else in a society. I think even further than that for mosca is the notion that elite tend to congregate in the political sphere.
Robert michels. Did his work on the iron law of oligarchy and the iron law of oligarchy talks about how small groups of people tend to over time start to run all of our political parties essentially for their own purposes. And for their own benefit.
And there has been a lot of discussion in the past say two decades or so in the united states about how there may be some truth to this statement with regard to the iron law of oligarchy. If we look at our past. Several presidencies.
We see that weve had two different presidents with the same last name. We also have had a governor with that same last name and today. We have a secretary of state whose husband used to be one of our presidents and so the notion of the iron law of oligarchy is that these groups who become so very powerful.
No longer really have the best interest of the public at heart.
And in edie. They rule with their own best interest in mind thorsten veblen goes. All the way back to the work of marx.
And he takes the roots of marx and says the same thing that he did society is characterized by conflict and really he concentrated on trying to figure out where the roots of power lie. And so he took a very very broad historical view of conflict and he tried to analyze it to figure out where it all began. He also did a significant amount of work on the idea of consumption in society.
What our consumers why are they driven. What are their characteristics and really what he came up with was for the united states in particular styles of consumption and leisure can be explained by the struggle for wanting to keep up with the joneses and so particularly in america. Where we are so very tied to the notion of consumerism velen would have argued that we do that so that we can remain personally competitive with our neighbors.
Our neighbors get a new car. We get a new car our neighbors remodel the bathroom. We feel like we need to do that also so without regard to whether or not something is a necessity we feel driven by consumerism in our society.
We feel driven by the need to compete and keep up with our neighbors. All right so those are four elite theorists. And you can see the roots of the notion of being an elite in society in each of their work all right take care.
Well talk again soon you .
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