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” 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” 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. [...]
[...] It is clear that it exists in Mills' eyes a “reciprocal attraction among the successful” that link them together and that lead to the feeling among the elite members that is of course, one of He even states that: “Nowhere in America is there as great a ‘class consciousness' as among the elite; nowhere is it organized as effectively as among the power elite” Of course, all this explains the homogeneity of the power elite group, the “criteria and codes” that prevail in their circles, the rules of co- optation, but these factors don't explain how the American power elite functions. [...]
[...] One can then note a harsh paradox of the active participation of political leaders in this fight against the general interest incarnated in the body of the government. Indeed, politicians have often numerous reasons for supporting the corporate interests, be it to raising funds for their political campaign or to limiting what they perceive as an intrusion in the firms' internal affairs alongside the government. As Parenti puts it, referring to a “troublesome agency”, the General Accounting Office that became genuinely problematic to the corporate interests: “Frequently executive leaders and key Congressmen work together to squelch a troublesome agency” He further describes how a Congressman's intervention achieved to make this Agency less annoying by forcing it into avoiding the enumeration of the company's names while awaiting more “constructive” efforts from the agency's side. [...]
[...] Mills' indeed distinguishes three separate domains of influence, that is to say, the military, the political world and the business world and sees a largely spread phenomenon in the accumulation or the rapid shift of these two or three-fold responsibilities. As he says: “Increasingly they assume positions in one another's domains” And subsequently: their very career, however, they interchange roles within the big three and thus readily transcend the particularity of interest in any one of these institutional milieux. By their very careers and activities, they lace the three types of milieux together. [...]
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