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Elites in the United States

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The very notion of a 'power elite'.
    1. The first author that first pointed out the existence of clear and distinct power elite.
    2. The defining factor of the power elite of the 1950s.
  3. The erosion of public authority.
    1. The opacity and darkness of the bureaucratic world.
    2. A real decline in the bureaucracy's powers.
    3. Who is to blame for the terrifying shift?
  4. The opinion shaping process is a money led one.
    1. William Domhoff's view of the web of forces that define the American politics.
    2. Four sorts of organs that are meant first to plan the desired policies and then to shape.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

One of the arguments that have been laid down to explain the defeat of John F. Kerry on the US-Presidential elections in 2004 was his elitist side. Being a White Anglo-Saxon from the North-East, Kerry really corresponded to the image of a politician who would run the country in a technocratic way, far from the realities of the Americans. Going back to the imaginary of the Americans, it seems to us particularly interesting to check out if the elite à la Kerry really rules America. Are the composition and functioning way of the American elite that linear and monolithic? Or do we have to deal with a very complex problem that is genuinely difficult to analyse in a country such as the United States of America? The purpose of this paper is to analyse the structure and scope of the American elites with the help of several social scientists that wrote on that topic between the 1950es till nowadays. The first author that first pointed out the existence of clear and distinct power elite in the United States of America was Charles Wright Mills in the year 1956. His purpose was to figure out first to what extent the American elite had developed in the 18th, 19th and 20th century and secondly what the main features and dangers of the 1950es elite were.

[...] However, their members achieve to go beyond their diverging opinions and don't forget that they have common interests in being united as common corporate elite. Furthermore, the corporate elite also tries, still according to Domhoff, to target the core of the ?American belief system? through the use of relay organizations among the civil society, like ?schools, churches and voluntary associations?. But one has not to forget the numerous and influent or to put it like Domhoff: very large and very active public affairs and public relations departments of the giant corporations?[21] These one have a direct influence on the American citizens and contribute in a constant way, to convey the message of a society in which: ?It's moral to have a profit system because then, truly, the deserving get rewarded?[22] All this proves the existence of a strong and persistent action of the organised but discrete corporate elite, which achieve through so to say knowledge institutions to gain support for their enterprises. [...]


[...] Judis puts it (2001), elites didn't play a dominant role during all the history of the United States. It is by far and large a 20th century phenomenon. In the past, political parties and interest groups also had the opportunity to be central players in US- politics. Will the idea of a cycle between these three determinants of the policy- planning a valuable one for the 21st century? Bibliography Domhoff, George W., Who rules America now? A view of the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Judis, John B., The Paradox of American democracy. [...]


[...] The goal is twofold: occupying the intellectual and media scene in order to give the corporate enemies no chance in coming to word on the one hand, and on the other hand shaping the public opinion in the corporates' favour to relentlessly dictating the pseudo-official national interests: organizations struggle to define for everyone what policies are in the ?national interest? and to identify those policies with Americanism?[20] Domhoff identifies four sorts of organs that are meant first to plan the desired policies and then to shape American polity? from the top to the down of the society. [...]

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