How do politics affect the bureaucracy? What lessons can we learn from theory about government and the bureaucracy?

Essay by AngelusTVSUniversity, Master'sA+, September 2007

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The role of bureaucrats is varied according to some theorists; some arguing for elitist theories and some for pluralist theories. If individuals wish to influence policy, they must have an outlet to do so. By studying history and theory, an individual will have the ability to understand avenues of influence. This is best seen through an examination of political theories and an understanding of how politics affect the bureaucracy.

Elitist theories of politics posit that leaders of the different elements of society, especially the political, are the ruling class. Because they share common interests they are able to keep each other in power, and because of their longstanding placement at the top of a bureaucratic hierarchy, they will not be replaced (Riley 46-50). Political elites, furthermore have the ability, institutional memories and experiences, as well as resources, to influence policy in their favor (Fritschler 20-22). The critique of elitist theories, can be found within the recommendations of writers of pluralist theorists.

By today's standards, many lobbying groups are now seen as political elites. Lobbying groups have become major players in the creation of politics, and the role that bureaucrats play as lobbyists.

Pluralist theories of politics rely on the power of groups to influence policy. Groups of citizens ban together under a common sphere of interests (Fritschler 23). Under this system it is assumed that power is equalized by opposing forces, and decisions are made with high consent and yield mutual benefits. Furthermore, democracy is seen as a competitive market, and because of that interests are constantly changing. Bureaucracies are affected with each decision, and within each policy. Each opposing side, more commonly in recent history creates advocacy groups, lobbying groups that influence politicians to create policy. However, in doing so, they are coming a part of the system of...