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The Power Elite and the State: How Policy is Made in America (Social Institutions and Social Change) Paperback – December 31, 1990

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0202303734 ISBN-10: 020230373X

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

G. William Domhoff is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his education at Duke University, Kent State University, and the University of Miami. Among Domhoff's many books are: The Power Elite and the State: How Policy is Made in America (Aldine); Mystique of Dreams; Who Rules America Now?; and Jews in the Protestant Establishment.

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Product Details

  • Series: Social Institutions and Social Change
  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Aldine Transaction (December 31, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020230373X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0202303734
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

G. William Domhoff, who goes by "Bill," is a Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Born into an apolitical middle-American family in what he and his friends thought of as the Midwest (Ohio), he received his B.A. at Duke University, his M.A. at Kent State University, and his Ph.D. at the University of Miami. He has been teaching at the University of California, Santa Cruz, since 1965.

Visit Bill's Web site at http://whorulesamerica.net/ for published articles, supplemental reading, and a 2014 YouTube video that touches on many topics from his latest research.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Swartz on June 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is not an easy book. Domhoff spends a lot of time talking about himself -- how his critics have mistreated, distorted, and ignored him; how he's changed his views since his last book; how his opponents are all wrong. But, on the whole, it seems Domhoff is right. Following not only the IEMP theory of Michael Mann (The Sources of Social Power: Vol. 1, A History of Power from the Beginning to AD 1760, Vol. 2: The Rise of Classes and Nation States, 1760-1914), but Mann's workaholic, just-the-facts style, Domhoff tries to get to the bottom of how policy is made. The result is usually a rather boring story -- a lot of business elites with names you don't recognize working on details you don't care about -- but Domhoff is trying to make the point that it is the business elites, after all, who call the shots. And he appears to do so convincingly. His brilliance is that he does not try to win by engaging in petty arguments with his intellectual opponents, but simply points out key facts they didn't mention, or even notice. Someone claims a government bureaucrat came up with a law and Domhoff shows that a business group sent them a similar proposal several months before. That sort of thing. The result is a convincing book, if not a fascinating one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on November 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
In his analysis of the nature and distribution of power in the US, G. William Domhoff shows eminently that the US is ruled by a power elite, which is the leadership arm of an upper class rooted in capitalism.

He illustrates his thesis by dissecting the tractations around the Social Security Act, the Wagner Act and the Employment Act, as well as the composition of the Council on Foreign Relations and the IMF negotiations in Bretton-Woods.

The author discerns 4 segments in the US ruling class:

1. an internetional segment: transnational corporations represented by organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations or the Committee for Economic Development

2. a nationalist manufacturing segment, rooted in domestic markets and represented by NAM or similar organizations

3. a southern segment, based on land ownership and cheap labor

4. a more localized segment, based on local real estate and development interests.

Polically, the southern segment sides with the international segment on international trade (export of cotton and other commodities), and with the nationalists on labor and welfare issues.

For the author, this power structure can only be challenged by social disruptions, be they violent or non-violent. Only turmoil can lead to increased voter turnout or change in voting (example: protest against the Vietnam war).

A natural capitalist evolution where the rich get richer and the poor poorer can only be challenged by a countervailing political party and the state. But the power elite is precisely there for making sure that such intervention does not happen.

The author was hopeful to see a major shift in US policies with the death of 'the old bogeyman: the red menace'.
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Format: Paperback
than he is in laying out his thesis, which is actually pretty cogent and a decent argument as far as elite control over the nation goes. It's too bad, because his petty squabbles with Theda Skocpol and other luminaries in the field ruin what could've been a great title.
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