Pluralist democracy

A pluralist society accepts diversity and so is tolerant.

The term pluralism is sometimes used more generally to refer to diversity or multiplicity (the existence of many things). For example:

• Political pluralism refers to competition for power between a number of parties

• Moral pluralism refers to the existence of a range of values and ethical beliefs

• Cultural pluralism refers to the existence of a variety of cultures or ethnic groups within the same society.

Pluralist democracy

Pluralism is a theory of the distribution of political power that holds that power is widely and evenly dispersed in society, rather than concentrated in the hands of an elite or ruling class. In particular, pluralists have a positive view of pressure-group politics, believing that groups promote healthy debate and discussion, and that they strengthen the democratic process .

Pluralist democracy is a form of democracy that operates through the capacity of organised groups and interests to articulate popular demands and ensure government responsiveness. The conditions for pluralist democracy include the following:

• There is a wide dispersal of power amongst competing groups and, in particular, there are no elite groups

• Groups are internally democratic in the sense that leaders are accountable to members

• Government is ‘neutral’ in the sense that it is willing to listen to any group or interest.

So how pluralist is the UK? Do lots of competing groups get involved in decision making? If not are we elitist where one groups dominates- i.e.- the rich and powerful? Or do political parities exclude those groups who do not agree with their policies-?

This term can be used when discussing the impact of pressure groups- if many pressure groups have access to decision making then we are quite pluralist.

The extent of pluralism is based on how much the following assumptions hold to be true:

• Citizens are represented largely through their membership of organised groups

• All groups have a measure of political influence

• There are many resources and ‘levers’ available to pressure groups (money, numbers, protests, etc) and these are widely spread

• No group can achieve a dominant position, because other groups will always challenge it – there is always a ‘countervailing power’.

Do pluralist societies lead to moral and cultural relativism?

If all ideas are of value and all voices can be heard does that mean no ideas are right and others wrong?