Advanced

Who governs? : Democracy and power in an American city

Nilsson, Astrid Noren LU and Xidias, Jason (2017)
Abstract

American political theorist Robert Dahl's 1961 work of political theory exhibits deep levels of creative thinking. When Dahl wrote, the American system of liberal democracy was generally considered to be shaped by a small group of powerful individuals who dominate because they are wealthy and influential. But by connecting the evidence in a new way in Who Governs? Dahl argued convincingly against this view. Dahl suggested that power is actually distributed among a number of competing groups, and that each of those groups seeks to influence decisions. He puts forward a definition of political power as the ability to make others do what you want them to, concluding that - while most people do not actively participate in politics and so do... (More)

American political theorist Robert Dahl's 1961 work of political theory exhibits deep levels of creative thinking. When Dahl wrote, the American system of liberal democracy was generally considered to be shaped by a small group of powerful individuals who dominate because they are wealthy and influential. But by connecting the evidence in a new way in Who Governs? Dahl argued convincingly against this view. Dahl suggested that power is actually distributed among a number of competing groups, and that each of those groups seeks to influence decisions. He puts forward a definition of political power as the ability to make others do what you want them to, concluding that - while most people do not actively participate in politics and so do not exert a direct influence - power is still fragmented, and citizens do indirectly shape decision-making. Dahl's novel explanation of the existing evidence emerged from a study of three areas of policy-making in the city of New Haven: political nominations, urban redevelopment, and public education. His research revealed that different people wielded power in each area, and that only the mayor, whose power is checked by those who vote for him, was powerful in all three. These new connections allowed Dahl to arrive at fresh conclusions and convincingly demonstrated that the US operates a pluralist system in which power is divided between different interest groups.

(Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Book/Report
publication status
published
subject
pages
83 pages
publisher
Routledge/ Taylor and Francis Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85031731291
ISBN
9781912303236
9781912282111
DOI
10.4324/9781912282111
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0f4872b7-b5ff-4ad6-9f51-e4f33115732d
date added to LUP
2017-10-31 07:48:55
date last changed
2018-01-07 12:24:22
@book{0f4872b7-b5ff-4ad6-9f51-e4f33115732d,
  abstract     = {<p>American political theorist Robert Dahl's 1961 work of political theory exhibits deep levels of creative thinking. When Dahl wrote, the American system of liberal democracy was generally considered to be shaped by a small group of powerful individuals who dominate because they are wealthy and influential. But by connecting the evidence in a new way in Who Governs? Dahl argued convincingly against this view. Dahl suggested that power is actually distributed among a number of competing groups, and that each of those groups seeks to influence decisions. He puts forward a definition of political power as the ability to make others do what you want them to, concluding that - while most people do not actively participate in politics and so do not exert a direct influence - power is still fragmented, and citizens do indirectly shape decision-making. Dahl's novel explanation of the existing evidence emerged from a study of three areas of policy-making in the city of New Haven: political nominations, urban redevelopment, and public education. His research revealed that different people wielded power in each area, and that only the mayor, whose power is checked by those who vote for him, was powerful in all three. These new connections allowed Dahl to arrive at fresh conclusions and convincingly demonstrated that the US operates a pluralist system in which power is divided between different interest groups.</p>},
  author       = {Nilsson, Astrid Noren and Xidias, Jason},
  isbn         = {9781912303236},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  pages        = {83},
  publisher    = {Routledge/ Taylor and Francis Group},
  title        = {Who governs? : Democracy and power in an American city},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781912282111},
  year         = {2017},
}