What are three features of pluralism?

One feature of pluralism is that“political power belongs to the mass of the population”, that there is “people power”. Therefore, democracy is real and the rights of people are protected as there is freedom from government. Pluralists do not believe that power was always diffused but believe the gradual democratic evolution in the Western world saw the development of people power. An example of this in the UK is that there is universal adult suffrage. Pluralists would also point to the secret ballot and choice of political parties as reflections of democracy being real. Also, the US has elections for all levels of authority from the President to the governor to the country sheriff. In addition to this, anyone can join a political party, run as an MP and even go on to be the PM as reflected through Thatcher who was the daughter of a greengrocer. In the US, the Bill of Rights ensures all citizens can fulfil these rights such as freedom of expression. In the case of Texas v Johnson in 1989 a man’s freedom of expression was defended as it was ruled he was entitled to burn the US flag even though it could be seen as an act of defiance against the government.

 Another feature of pluralism is that the state is neutral. The USC expressed the desire for America to have limited government to prevent “the tyranny of the majority” (de Tocqueville). Consequently, the state governments were set up to allow a wide range of people to be involved in decision-making and to prevent domination. These governments were to ensure the principle of limited government was upheld and to protect the people from government, ensuring the state acts for all the people. This also encourages “compromise, compromise, compromise” (Cooke). For example, there is a horizontal division of powers between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary and these are accompanied by various checks and balances such as the President only being able to declare war with 2/3 consent from the Senate.

A third feature of pluralism is that everyone has access to power and no one group dominates. CJ Hewitt, after his 20 year study in the UK, concluded that “no one pressure group consistently got its own way”. Therefore, a variety of groups were represented and there was “freedom to organise and to promote a range of opinions” which illustrates access to power is possible for all. For example, the UK currently has more than 7000 competing pressure groups ranging from Greenpeace to the British Medical Association. None of these groups always get their way but get their way at some stage such as the government consulting with them. For instance, in 1999 the Countryside Alliance opposed the bill to ban fox hunting and so they protested. This made the Labour Government rethink and delay their bill on the banning of fox hunting. Also, in the US the NRA has prevented the second amendment being repealed; the right to bear arms which shows the influence pressure groups have as well as it is only when the masses want change that it will happen, no one group dominates.

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