Elite Theory

The elite theory has shaped the public spectrum in a variety of ways. Its effects on public administration have been more of negative as opposed to the expectation of many individuals. It has given a few members of the society an opportunity to exercise autonomy on all the facets of the economy and politics.

Among the ways that elite theory has manifested itself in a negative way on issues to do with public administration is the way it has enabled some individuals to create political dynasties. The majority of the ruling elites are usually determined by their family backgrounds (Rosenbloom & Kravchuck, 2014). A good example is the Kennedys. They were able to retain power within the family based on who they were. Kennedy’s father; Joseph played a significant role in ensuring that this was attained. He originated from a Boston family of Irish Catholics that was very wealthy. Being wealthy meant that the family had some status in the society that could only be actualized by a few individuals. As a result, the wealth was used as a way of gaining power, which reigned in the family for a long time (Bardes & Shelley, 2010). The influence that the family had was critical in ensuring that they remain within the political circles for as long as possible. This was regardless of how their political regimes influenced various aspects in the United States. This is just a classical example of how elite theory gives an opportunity to certain individuals within the society just because of who they are affiliated to. In the face of it, it might look like an aspect of democracy, but there is always an underlying power that helps to exert influence.

Elite theory also manifests itself with regards to how bureaucracy has prevailed in the public administration. A few individuals usually have the ability to determine the fate of an entire nation. On most occasions, both elected and non-elected members of the government make rules and regulations that are meant to govern the people. There is a lot of bureaucracy on how such actions are undertaken. This makes it difficult for most common citizens to comprehend since things are usually not as transparent as they look. The public is usually asked to provide opinions on how certain issues should be undertaken. This is usually a public relations aspect since on most occasions; the opinions of the public are not taken into consideration. The decisions are usually made long before the public starts to be involved. The elite groups involved in developing these rules and regulations usually have clubs where they meet and interact occasionally. This is where the decisions are made, even before any consultation is made with the public (Bardes & Shelley, 2010). However, they are very cunning and usually make the public believe that they have their best interest at heart.

Fortune 500 companies also provide a favorable example of how elite theory has dominated our society. A glance at the list of various CEOs shows a significant imbalance on matters to do with gender. The list has only 24 female CEOs, which is only 4.8% of the total number (Fairchild, 2014). This is an indication of how certain positions in the society have been preserved for the male gender. Sometimes it is not even a matter of how competent an individual can be, but who they are based on various societal definitions. It is more of a stereotype created indicating that people with certain stratifications are more suited in undertaking certain activities compared to others. Other aspects of the Fortune 500 companies that show how elite theory plays a huge role in the economic sector are how the companies seem to remain within the family realm. This is despite the company’s shares being sold to the other people during public offerings. Examples include a company like Wal-mart where the Waltorn family still owns 50%. Ford, a company that is more than 110 years old, sees the current generation of the Fords control more than 40% of the voting powers (Fairchild, 2014).

Janda & Berry (2008) assert that there are instances where certain bills are passed for the sake of benefiting certain individuals and not the general public. A good example is with the people that contribute huge amounts of funds for political campaigns. Most of them usually own huge business empires that operate on large scale basis. By making their contribution, they are usually hopeful that if their candidate prevails they stand a chance of gaining in one way or another. They usually ask for favors that help streamline their businesses and other areas of their lives. This is among the reasons why certain bills and rules, which are redundant and do not work to help the general public seem to be given priority (Janda & Berry, 2008). Most of the favors provided are those that help the individuals thrive in their businesses regardless of the existing competition. These actions are against the antitrust law, which seeks to regulate businesses by ensuring that fair competition is enhanced. It is a favorable example of how people bestowed with power use it for their self-gratification at the expense of others.

Elite theory also manifests itself through the bipartisan political monopoly exercised in the United States. Why have only two parties? This is an indication of individuals coming together and cementing their futures. It is very unlikely for someone that does not belong to either of these parties to be elected for a public office. Most of the individuals that have tried to vie for public offices as independent candidates end up failing miserably. People are led to believe that there is an aspect of democracy, but it is limited in many ways (Rosenbloom & Kravchuck, 2014).



Bardes, B., & Shelley, M. (2010). American government and politics today: The essentials (2009-2010 ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Fairchild, C. (2014, June 3). Number of Fortune 500 women CEOs reaches historic high. Retrieved November 21, 2015, from http://fortune.com/2014/06/03/number-of-fortune-500-women-ceos-reaches-historic-high/

Janda, K., & Berry, J. (2008). The challenge of democracy: Government in America (9th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rosenbloom, D., & Kravchuck, R. (2014). Public administration: Understanding management, politics, and law in the public sector = 8. rev. ed. Boston [u.a.: McGraw-Hill.

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