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Read two readings with a total of 15 pages and write a reading analysis of 1-2 pages.

Part 1.

Summary 1: Choose a reading assigned this week (or the previous week)- Check the syllabus—and provide a comprehensive summary. Explain the main findings, back up your claims

with at least two citations from the reading (Author, page. Number)

. (1 full paragraph)

Summary 2: Choose a SECOND reading assigned this week (or the previous week)- Check the syllabus—and provide a comprehensive summary. Explain the main findings, back up your claims

with at least two citations from the reading (Author, page number).

(1 full paragraph)

Part 2.

An analytical response to the

following question

. (1 -2 paragraph) with references (Author, page number) to specific course material (be sure to cite accurately). An analytical response means that this is not merely your opinion, but it is an informed critique of the information posed.

Reading Analysis Question:

American society provides us with a clear and trusted aim of the American Dream—an individualistic interpretation that with enough effort one can succeed no matter who you are or where you started. This idea is based on Meritocracy, a foundational belief in American culture. Discuss meritocracy by defining it (

and citing a specific reading)

and then use it to try and understand Barbara Ehrenreich’s experiment. Discuss if and how minimum wage work can lead towards the American Dream and provide examples of any barriers that might affect one’s ability to move up in social class despite their merit and hard work.

Cite Barbara’s article.

Argue a position

: Do you think that certain kinds of people might have more barriers than others in their pursuit of the American Dream? If so, which groups and why?

Defend your stance with


(citations) Is there anything besides hard work that goes into one’s ability to have social mobility in America? Provide specific examples.

Be sure to cite the readings directly.

Article 4
Who Rules America?
G. William Domhoff
Power and Class in the United States
and sometimes mingle with the corporate rich in educational or
resort settings.
The corporate rich and the growth entrepreneurs supplement
their small numbers by developing and directing a wide variety
of nonprofit organizations, the most important of which are a set
of tax-free charitable foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion groups. These specialized nonprofit groups constitute a
policy-formation network at the national level. Chambers of
commerce and policy groups affiliated with them form similar
policy-formation networks at the local level, aided by a few national-level city development organizations that are available
for local consulting.
Those corporate owners who have the interest and ability to
take part in general governance join with top-level executives in
the corporate community and the policy-formation network to
form the power elite, which is the leadership group for the corporate rich as a whole. The concept of a power elite makes clear
that not all members of the upper class are involved in governance; some of them simply enjoy the lifestyle that their great
wealth affords them. At the same time, the focus on a leadership
group allows for the fact that not all those in the power elite are
members of the upper class; many of them are high-level employees in profit and nonprofit organizations controlled by the
corporate rich.…
The power elite is not united on all issues because it includes
both moderate conservatives and ultraconservatives. Although
both factions favor minimal reliance on government on all domestic issues, the moderate conservatives sometimes agree to
legislation advocated by liberal elements of the society, especially in times of social upheaval like the Great Depression of
the 1930s and the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s.
Except on defense spending, ultraconservatives are characterized by a complete distaste for any kind of government programs under any circumstances—even to the point of opposing
government support for corporations on some issues. Moderate
conservatives often favor foreign aid, working through the
United Nations, and making attempts to win over foreign enemies through patient diplomacy, treaties, and trade agreements.
Historically, ultraconservatives have opposed most forms of
Power and class are terms that make Americans a little uneasy,
and concepts like power elite and dominant class immediately
put people on guard. The idea that a relatively fixed group of
privileged people might shape the economy and government
for their own benefit goes against the American grain. Nevertheless,… the owners and top-level managers in large incomeproducing properties are far and away the dominant power figures in the United States. Their corporations, banks, and agribusinesses come together as a corporate community that
dominates the federal government in Washington. Their real estate, construction, and land development companies form
growth coalitions that dominate most local governments.
Granted, there is competition within both the corporate community and the local growth coalitions for profits and investment
opportunities, and there are sometimes tensions between national corporations and local growth coalitions, but both are cohesive on policy issues affecting their general welfare, and in
the face of demands by organized workers, liberals, environmentalists, and neighborhoods.
As a result of their ability to organize and defend their interests, the owners and managers of large income-producing properties have a very great share of all income and wealth in the
United States, greater than in any other industrial democracy.
Making up at best 1 percent of the total population, by the early
1990s they earned 15.7 percent of the nation’s yearly income
and owned 37.2 percent of all privately held wealth, including
49.6 percent of all corporate stocks and 62.4 percent of all
bonds. Due to their wealth and the lifestyle it makes possible,
these owners and managers draw closer as a common social
group. They belong to the same exclusive social clubs, frequent
the same summer and winter resorts, and send their children to
a relative handful of private schools. Members of the corporate
community thereby become a corporate rich who create a nationwide social upper class through their social interaction.…
Members of the growth coalitions, on the other hand, are place
entrepreneurs, people who sell locations and buildings. They
come together as local upper classes in their respective cities
inated against—sometimes develop the capacity to influence
the power structure through sit-ins, demonstrations, social
movements, and other forms of social disruption, and there is
evidence that such activities do bring about some redress of
grievances, at least for a short time.
More generally, the various challengers to the power elite
sometimes work together on policy issues as a liberal-labor coalition that is based in unions, local environmental organizations, some minority group communities, university and arts
communities, liberal churches, and small newspapers and magazines. Despite a decline in membership over the past twenty
years, unions are the largest and best-financed part of the coalition, and the largest organized social force in the country (aside
from churches). They also cut across racial and ethnic lines more
than any other institutionalized sector of American society.…
The policy conflicts between the corporate-conservative and
liberal-labor coalitions are best described as class conflicts because they primarily concern the distribution of profits and
wages, the rate and progressivity of taxation, the usefulness of
labor unions, and the degree to which business should be regulated by government. The liberal-labor coalition wants corporations to pay higher wages to employees and higher taxes to
government. It wants government to regulate a wide range of
business practices, including many that are related to the environment, and help employees to organize unions. The corporate-conservative coalition resists all these policy objectives to
a greater or lesser degree, claiming they endanger the freedom
of individuals and the efficient workings of the economic marketplace. The conflicts these disagreements generate can manifest themselves in many different ways: workplace protests,
industrywide boycotts, massive demonstrations in cities, pressure on Congress, and the outcome of elections.
Neither the corporate-conservative nor the liberal-labor coalition includes a very large percentage of the American population, although each has the regular support of about 25–30
percent of the voters. Both coalitions are made up primarily of
financial donors, policy experts, political consultants, and party
foreign involvement, although they have become more tolerant
of foreign trade agreements over the past thirty or forty years.
At the same time, their hostility to the United Nations continues
Members of the power elite enter into the electoral arena as
the leaders within a corporate-conservative coalition, where
they are aided by a wide variety of patriotic, antitax, and other
single-issue organizations. These conservative advocacy organizations are funded in varying degrees by the corporate rich,
direct-mail appeals, and middle-class conservatives. This coalition has played a large role in both political parties at the presidential level and usually succeeds in electing a conservative
majority to both houses of Congress. Historically, the conservative majority in Congress was made up of most Northern Republicans and most Southern Democrats, but that arrangement
has been changing gradually since the 1960s as the conservative
Democrats of the South are replaced by even more conservative
Southern Republicans. The corporate-conservative coalition
also has access to the federal government in Washington
through lobbying and the appointment of its members to top positions in the executive branch.…
Despite their preponderant power within the federal government and the many useful policies it carries out for them, members of the power elite are constantly critical of government as
an alleged enemy of freedom and economic growth. Although
their wariness toward government is expressed in terms of a dislike for taxes and government regulations, I believe their underlying concern is that government could change the power
relations in the private sphere by aiding average Americans
through a number of different avenues: (1) creating government
jobs for the unemployed; (2) making health, unemployment,
and welfare benefits more generous; (3) helping employees
gain greater workplace rights and protections; and (4) helping
workers organize unions. All of these initiatives are opposed by
members of the power elite because they would increase wages
and taxes, but the deepest opposition is toward any government
support for unions because unions are a potential organizational
base for advocating the whole range of issues opposed by the
corporate rich.…
Pluralism. The main alternative theory [I] address…. claims
that power is more widely dispersed among groups and classes
than a class-dominance theory allows. This general perspective
is usually called pluralism, meaning there is no one dominant
power group. It is the theory most favored by social scientists.
In its strongest version, pluralism holds that power is held by the
general public through the pressure that public opinion and
voting put on elected officials. According to this version, citizens form voluntary groups and pressure groups that shape
public opinion, lobby elected officials, and back sympathetic
political candidates in the electoral process.…
The second version of pluralism sees power as rooted in a
wide range of well-organized “interest groups” that are often
based in economic interests (e.g., industrialists, bankers, labor
unions), but also in other interests as well (e.g., environmental,
consumer, and civil rights groups). These interest groups join
together in different coalitions depending on the specific issues.
Proponents of this version of pluralism sometimes concede that
Where Does Democracy Fit In?
…[T]o claim that the corporate rich have enough power to be
considered a dominant class does not imply that lower social
classes are totally powerless. Domination means the power to
set the terms under which other groups and classes must operate, not total control. Highly trained professionals with an interest in environmental and consumer issues have been able to
couple their technical information and their understanding of
the legislative and judicial processes with well-timed publicity,
lobbying, and lawsuits to win governmental restrictions on
some corporate practices. Wage and salary employees, when
they are organized into unions and have the right to strike, have
been able to gain pay increases, shorter hours, better working
conditions, and social benefits such as health insurance. Even
the most powerless of people—the very poor and those discrim2
Article 4. Who Rules America?
and justice. If pluralists are correct, these appointees should
come from a wide range of interest groups. If the state autonomy theorists are correct, they should be disproportionately
former elected officials or longtime government employees. If
the class-dominance view is correct, they should come disproportionately from the upper class, the corporate community,
and the policy-formation network.
public opinion and voting have only a minimal or indirect influence, but they see business groups as too fragmented and antagonistic to form a cohesive dominant class. They also claim that
some business interest groups occasionally join coalitions with
liberal or labor groups on specific issues, and that businessdominated coalitions sometimes lose. Furthermore, some proponents of this version of pluralism believe that the Democratic
Party is responsive to the wishes of liberal and labor interest
In contrast, I argue that the business interest groups are part
of a tightly knit corporate community that is able to develop
classwide cohesion on the issues of greatest concern to it: opposition to unions, high taxes, and government regulation. When
a business group loses on a specific issue, it is often because
other business groups have been opposed; in other words, there
are arguments within the corporate community, and these arguments are usually settled within the governmental arena. I also
claim that liberal and labor groups are rarely part of coalitions
with business groups and that for most of its history the Democratic Party has been dominated by corporate and agribusiness
interests in the Southern states, in partnership with the growth
coalitions in large urban areas outside the South. Finally, I show
that business interests rarely lose on labor and regulatory issues
except in times of extreme social disruption like the 1930s and
1960s, when differences of opinion between Northern and
Southern corporate leaders made victories for the liberal-labor
coalition possible.…
There have been numerous studies over the years of major
governmental appointees under both Republican and Democratic administrations, usually focusing on the top appointees in
the departments that are represented in the president’s cabinet.
These studies are unanimous in their conclusion that most top
appointees in both Republican and Democratic administrations
are corporate executives and corporate lawyers—and hence
members of the power elite.…
This [section] has demonstrated the power elite’s wideranging access to government through the interest-group and
policy-formation processes, as well as through its ability to influence appointments to major government positions. When
coupled with the several different kinds of power discussed in
earlier [sections] this access and involvement add up to power
elite domination of the federal government.
By domination, as stated in the first [section], social scientists mean the ability of a class or group to set the terms under
which other classes or groups within a social system must operate. By this definition, domination does not mean control on
each and every issue, and it does not rest solely on involvement
in government. Influence over government is only the final and
most visible aspect of power elite domination, which has its
roots in the class structure, the corporate control of the investment function, and the operation of the policy-formation network. If government officials did not have to wait for corporate
leaders to decide where and when they will invest, and if government officials were not further limited by the general
public’s acceptance of policy recommendations from the
policy-formation network, then power elite involvement in
elections and government would count for a lot less than they
do under present conditions.
How the Power Elite Dominates
This [section] shows how the power elite builds on the ideas developed in the policy-formation process and its success in the electoral arena to dominate the federal government. Lobbyists from
corporations, law firms, and trade associations play a key role in
shaping government on narrow issues of concern to specific corporations or business sectors, but their importance should not be overestimated because a majority of those elected to Congress are
predisposed to agree with them. The corporate community and the
policy-formation network supply top-level governmental appointees and new policy directions on major issues.
Once again, as seen in the battles for public opinion and electoral success, the power elite faces opposition from a minority
of elected officials and their supporters in labor unions and liberal advocacy groups. These opponents are sometimes successful in blocking ultra-conservative initiatives, but most of
the victories for the liberal-labor coalition are the result of support from moderate conservatives.…
Domination by the power elite does not negate the reality of
continuing conflict over government policies, but few conflicts,
it has been shown, involve challenges to the rules that create
privileges for the upper class and domination by the power elite.
Most of the numerous battles within the interest-group process,
for example, are only over specific spoils and favors; they often
involve disagreements among competing business interests.
Similarly, conflicts within the policy-making process of government often involve differences between the moderate conservative and ultraconservative segments of the dominant class.
At other times they involve issues in which the needs of the corporate community as a whole come into conflict with the needs
of specific industries, which is what happens to some extent on
tariff policies and also on some environmental legislation. In
Appointees to Government
The first way to test a class-dominance view of the federal
government is to study the social and occupational backgrounds
of the people who are appointed to manage the major departments of the executive branch, such as state, treasury, defense,
corporate community and its associated policy-formation network. Thus, the power elite is clearly the most powerful in
terms of “Who sits?”
Third, the power elite wins far more often than it loses on
policy issues resolved in the federal government. Thus, it is the
most powerful in terms of “Who wins?” Finally, as shown in
reputational studies in the 1950s and 1970s,… corporate leaders
are the most powerful group in terms of “Who shines?” By the
usual rules of evidence in a social science investigation using
multiple indicators, the owners and managers of large incomeproducing properties are the dominant class in the United
Still, as noted at the end of the first [section], power structures are not immutable. Societies change and power structures
evolve or crumble from time to unpredictable time, especially
in the face of challenge. When it is added that the liberal-labor
coalition persists in the face of its numerous defeats, and that
free speech and free elections are not at risk, there remains the
possibility that class domination could be replaced by a greater
sharing of power in the future.
neither case does the nature of the conflict call into question the
domination of government by the power elite.
…Contrary to what pluralists claim, there is not a single case
study on any issue of any significance that shows a liberal-labor
victory over a united corporate-conservative coalition, which is
strong evidence for a class-domination theory on the “Who
wins?” power indicator. The classic case studies frequently
cited by pluralists have been shown to be gravely deficient as
evidence for their views. Most of these studies reveal either
conflicts among rival groups within the power elite or situations
in which the moderate conservatives have decided for their own
reasons to side with the liberal-labor coalition.…
More generally, it now can be concluded that all four indicators of power introduced in [the first section] point to the corporate rich and their power elite as the dominant organizational
structure in American society. First, the wealth and income distributions are skewed in their favor more than in any other industrialized democracy. They are clearly the most powerful
group in American society in terms of “Who benefits?” Second,
the appointees to government come overwhelmingly from the
From Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000, 3rd ed., pp. 241, 246–249, 286–289. Copyright © 1997 by McGraw-Hill Companies/
Mayfield Publishing Co. Reprinted by permission. Notes omitted.

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