Essay on Analyse and Contrast Elite, Pluralist and Marxist Theories of the State. Which Interpretation Do You Find Most Convincing?

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2. Analyse and contrast elite, pluralist and Marxist theories of the state. Which interpretation do you find most convincing?


The aim of this essay is to examine the three major theories of the state before concluding which of them is, in my opinion, most useful when examining the relationship between the state and civil society in the UK. I will first attempt to briefly outline the three theories. Following this I will offer some definitions and distinctions as well as highlighting some of the contentious and problematic issues that arise whenever one undertakes examination of this type of subject.


I will vary from the ordering of the question here to first outline the Marxist theory. I do so simply
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This is obviously much closer to the system we employ in Britain today, although you may argue that we are now much more of a meritocracy with two of the last four Prime Ministers not attending Oxbridge. In fact, John Major left school at 16 with only 3 O-levels yet still rose through the ranks of the, historically upper class, Conservative Party.


Despite this, some would still argue that we are run by a bourgeoisie. This year, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education said in a speech “Rich, thick kids do better than poor, clever children”; he continued “despite the best efforts of our society, the situation is getting worse”. Gove is obviously in a better position than most to judge and seems of the opinion that a move towards a system based on merit is proving difficult to achieve. Some would use this as evidence that civil society at large is under a ‘false consciousness’. This is perhaps a step too far. However, the concept of hegemony does seem to offer us a reasonable expectation. Hegemony arose as a theory from the Italian thinker Gramsci’s question of why the proletariat don’t rise up and revolt as Marx’s theory predicts. One apt description is that it “allows control through consensus rather than force” (6). The basic hypothesis is that the ruling class subtly control the ‘common sense’ in order to maintain power. This may