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Power

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Power

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  1. Power

  2. power elite • part of the social historical context (conflict view) • a social problem in itself

  3. Formal structure of American democracy: Executive Judicial Legislative Balance of powers

  4. What Mills sees happening • Business and government “more intricately and deeply involved with each other” • Military ascendancy; “enlarged and military state” • Permanent-war economy; military capitalism; “military has benefited the most” (45)

  5. Power Elite • Mills defined it as a concentration of power among socially allied members of three key sectors: • Economic: large corporations • Political: especially the executive branch of the federal government • Military

  6. Power elite • “ascendancy of the corporation’s man as a political eminence…” (Mills, 1956) • “tied to their dominant locales…” • “however, they…transcend the particularity of interest…[and] lace the three types of milieux together.”

  7. Power elite • Not a conspiracy; but official secrecy increases • Institutional trends • Social similarities and psychological affinities • power elite “encroach” upon the old balances

  8. The Power Elite acc. Domhoff Social Upper Class The Power Elite Corporate Community Policy-Formation Organizations

  9. Domhoff on power and class • Value assumptions: • Democracy in politics • Mobility in class • Power elite dominates (“power to set the terms…not total control”) • Corporate-conservative coalition vs. liberal-labor coalition • This is a class conflict • Domhoff’s website:http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/ • They rule: http://www.theyrule.net/

  10. Case study: Enron

  11. Enron and the power elite • Kenneth Lay, former employee of old Federal Power Commission put Enron together in 1980s • 1993: Wendy Gramm (wife of TX. Sen. Phil), chair of Commodity Futures Trading Commission; exempts energy derivative contracts from oversight. Weeks later, joins Enron Board. • 1994: lobbies Securities and Exchange Commission for utility monopoly exemption, wins • 1996: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allows electricity deregulation; five years later California has electricity crisis • 2000: Commodity Futures Modernization Act allows Enron to further its speculative activity in commodities from electricity to water

  12. Enron and the power elite • Spent $5.9 million on federal politics since 1989 • President Bush’s largest contributor: $1 million for campaigns for governor and president • Kenneth Lay had close personal ties • Played golf with Bill Clinton • George W. Bush called him “Kenny Boy” • Interviewed prospective cabinet members • Private meetings with Vice President Cheney on energy policy (GAO lawsuit)

  13. Enron and the power elite Members of current administration with former Enron ties

  14. What about elections? • Which sector of P.E. do we elect? • Describe the process

  15. What is the contradiction? • P.E. vs. masses • Elite interests vs. democracy

  16. Social movements • “sustained, organized, collective effort that focuses on some aspect of social change” (Blackwell Dictionary or Sociology, 262) • usually arise when institutional (mainstream, legitimate) means of social change unavailable • expression of grassroots democracy?