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Title: Group struggle or class conflict? : the application of pluralist theory and class theory to English politics
Author: Barrett, Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1988
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The growth of single-issue politics, and of the articulation and resolution of political demands through pressure group structures is linked, by group theorists, to the development of the corporate economic State. In an increasingly complex political order, it is argued, the individual must orient herself to political structures through multiple group memberships which cut across traditional socio-economic categories, and which reduce the impact of class identification and political behaviour. Thus the pluralists suggest that group membership is replacing class location as a focus for political identity and a motor of political behaviour. This argument is investigated with reference to the sociopolitical attitudes and behaviours of electors drawn from three English Parliamentary constituencies. The constituencies - Guildford, Richmond and Barnes and Sheffield Attercliffe - exhibit distinctive socio-economic characteristics and electoral trends. The constituency sample units are stratified by group, and electors are drawn from those groups typically organised within the community. Participants are examined by survey questionnaire. In examining the class and group bases of British politics, considerable attention is paid to concept-formulation. 'The group' is operationalised according to dimensions of interest and power, and the nature and role of interest group activity within the three constituencies are investigated. The concept of class is operationalised according to Marxian theory, and is critically examined with reference to stratification theory. Indicators of socio-economic and political variables are investigated during data analysis, and class and group-structured political identifications and behaviours are examined. Although participation in both group and class structures is found to be politically significant among survey-respondents, group-structured political behaviour is found to be strongly related to class location. It is therefore argued that the concept of class possesses explanatory value in political analysis. A class theory of group politics is thus proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political Science