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Emmanuel Sitnikov
Emmanuel Sitnikov

The New Power Elite: Inequality, Politics And G...


This leads to hypothesis 3, which examines the relationship of the tech elite to politics. It proposes that members of the elite have a contradictory relationship with democracy because market success and financial wealth should tend to entail worldviews and arguably activities (including philanthropic activities) that sidestep democratic representation. We found no statistically significant differences in whether or not the tech elite saw a positive relationship between power and money, or between power and democracy, as compared to the members of the US Twitter-using population. Yet, the tech elite denied that there is a positive connection between democracy and money, something that is logically inconsistent with the previous correlations and that is not shared by ordinary US Twitter users, who see the existence of a nexus between democracy and money.




The New Power Elite: Inequality, Politics and G...



Ideally, ideas, institutions, and growth all reinforce one another in a virtuous developmental spiral. Ideas offer hope by encouraging cooperation and the pursuit of opportunities for win-win gains. Institutions assure that the bargains underpinning cooperation will be monitored and enforced. Together, ideas and institutions provide credible commitment, which fuels economic growth. However, such a benign scenario does not reckon with the ways in which persistent high inequality, accompanied by unresolved tensions between the distribution of economic and political power, can both put pressure on institutions and quickly change hope into anger. The result can be a cascading set of pressures and an accelerating downward spiral.


Power struggles often lead to power inequality which then translates into economic inequality and other types of inequality. Horizontal inequality, which is inequality between different identity groups in modern societies, is an important topic of study in economics, sociology, social anthropology, and political science8,9,10,11. Horizontal inequality negatively affects economic efficiency12, the production of public goods13 and government efficiency14, and it often leads to social instability and conflicts15. Inequality also negatively affect the well-being of citizens in different ways especially when it becomes institutionalized (e.g., as studied in the Social Dominance Theory16). Between-group inequality affected the historical development and survival of many tribes, chiefdoms, states, and empires17,18,19. To better understand these processes, we need to consider the dynamics of collective action4,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27 in cooperation and conflict at multiple levels5.


There are a variety of models in economics that describe between-group contests. In these models, cooperative groups secure a higher share of contested resource or have higher probabilities to win the contest38,39. Most of these models implicitly equate the power of the group with its effort in the contest which controls the share of the resource it secures. However there are also models of between-group conflict with a broader interpretation of power. For example, Refs.40,41,42 modeled contests for power between two or three factions in the society (e.g. the elite, middle class, and commoners or the authoritarian government and the military or two political groups), the winner of which determines the economic and political outcomes (e.g., democratic or despotic). Ref.43 studied how the equilibrium contributions to conflict depend on the indices of inequality, fractionalization, and polarization44 in the society. These studies highlight the political aspects of human societies which play an important role in their dynamics.


Our model has several realistic features which have been largely neglected in earlier work. Most importantly it considers the joint dynamics of cooperation and competition between different identity groups in the society while explicitly accounting for individual behavior. We allowed for differences between groups in their sizes and changing political power and explicitly focused on the effects of checks and balances mechanisms limiting the ability of powerful groups to grab more power. We considered the effects of inequality, environmental conditions, and rivalrousness of produced collective goods on cooperation and social dynamics.


A recent classroom discussion left Tom with both questions and an uneasy feeling. He was raised to believe that anyone can achieve in America, and he has lived by that belief. He has dreams of wealth, and he even thinks that it would be cool to someday go into politics. He thinks that as a politician he can influence policy decisions and provide helpful change. Unfortunately, the discussion in class changed some of his ideas about America. According to G. William Domhoff who wrote a book called Who Rules America?, it is not the people, but wealthy business owners who make the rules. Domhoff is a professor at UC Santa Cruz who conducts research in psychology and sociology. In his book, he talked about the power elite and how they influence politics.


Yet sluggish wage growth is not a political secret; it has been widely recognized across the political spectrum, even cited by both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms in 2016.1 The root causes of the trend have frequently been misidentified, however. One prominent interpretation is that disappointing wage growth is an unfortunate result of apolitical market forces that one neither can nor would want to alter. Since labor markets are generally competitive and workers and employers have roughly balanced degrees of market power, this argument naively assumes, fundamental apolitical forces like technological change and automation, as well as globalization, have mechanically shifted demand away from non-college-educated and middle-wage workers. But, as this paper will show, the premier research cited in support of an automation/technological theory has itself actually offered empirical metrics that demonstrate that automation/technological change fails to explain wage trends and wage inequality, especially in the period since 1995. Since the automation/technological change explanation is the preeminent explanation drawn from competitive labor market analyses based on equal bargaining power between employers and employees, the failure of automation/technological change to explain wage suppression and wage inequality represents the inability of competitive labor market analyses to adequately explain one of the most salient features of the economy over the last four decades.


Over the past several decades scholars have intensively debated what factors drive globalization. Answers have ranged from the emergence of the information society and the global economy to value-conflicts embedded in different civilizations. A different yet closely related question is who is driving globalization? That is, however, much less studied, even if it is arguably key to making global governance intelligible. A whole list of actors seem to offer possible answers to the question of who the globalizers are: Are they global institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the International Criminal Court (ICC); communities of experts providing technocratic solutions; transnational networks of activists seeking to alter global and national politics by pursuing, for example, environmental or human rights agendas; or are they powerful individuals forming transnational elites taking the fate of the global society in their hands at a safe distance from ordinary politics in places such as Brussels, New York, or Davos?


Over the past several decades scholars have intensively debated what factors drive globalization. Answers have ranged from the emergence of the information society (Castells, 2000a) and the global economy (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, & Perraton, 1999) to value-conflicts embedded in different civilizations (Huntington, 1996) to mention but a few of the best known theories. A different yet closely related question is who is driving globalization? That is, however, much less studied, even if it is arguably key to making global governance intelligible (Kauppi & Madsen, 2014). There seems to be a whole list of actors offering possible answers to the question of who the globalizers are: Are they global institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the International Criminal Court (ICC); communities of experts providing technocratic solutions; transnational networks of activists seeking to alter global and national politics by pursuing, for example, environmental or human rights agendas; or are they powerful individuals forming transnational elites taking the fate of the global society in their hands at a safe distance from ordinary politics in places such as Brussels, New York, or Davos? In this article we address each of these possible answers in terms of global or transnational networks, elites, or institutions.


While these studies show the mechanisms by which some groups of individuals succeed in staying in power, they tend to minimize the importance of electoral politics and public opinion. The complexity of society is further simplified to an extreme, as being composed of dominant and dominated classes. In revealing the mechanisms of institutional power, most of these approaches create an impression of inevitability: the elites are unified, and the relationships they entertain with the masses are unchanging. Compared to pluralist and power elite theories of elites, Marxist theories, however, underline the links between the economic system and the political system. Those who control the means of production govern society. According to Ralph Miliband, economic dominance tends to instrumentalize political power to further its own ends (Miliband, 1983). Political conflicts are conceptualized in terms of class conflict. Antonio Gramsci, for his part, launched the term ideological hegemony to describe the functioning of the capitalist state (Gramsci, Nowell-Smith, & Hoare, 1971). The dominant classes form the ideas that make up the conscience of the masses. 041b061a72


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