There are 4 main approaches in sociology covering politics. First one is functionalist approach, second is pluralist approach, third is elite theory, and fourth is Marxist-conflict theory.
In functionalist approach, society is evaluated in terms of basic needs. The state has emerged as a necessity within the society. These needs are: 1. Maintaining order 2. Relations with other states/governments 3. Directing the system
Pluralist approach claims to explain the power and distribution of power in Western democratic societies. There are two versions of pluralism which are classical pluralism and elite pluralist approach. Classical pluralist approach has similarities with Talcott Parsons’ functionalist perspective. Pluralists agree with Parsons that power ultimately derives from the population as a whole:
1.They accept that the government and the state in a Western democracy act in the interests of that society and according to the wishes of its members.
2.They see the political systems of countries such as the USA, Britain and France as the most advanced systems of government yet devised, and regard them as the most effective way for a population to exercise power and govern a country.
3.They regard the exercise of power through the state to be legitimate rather than coercive, since it is held to be based upon the acceptance and cooperation of the population.
Pluralist approach claims that political parties are representative for the following reasons:
1.The public directly influences party policy, since, in order to be elected to govern, parties must reflect the wishes and interests of the electorate in their programmes.
2.If existing parties do not sufficiently represent sections of society, a new party will usually emerge…
3. Parties are accountable to the electorate, since they will not regain power if they disregard the opinions and interests of the public.
4.Parties cannot simply represent a sectional interest since, to be elected to power, they require the support of various interests in society.
Interest groups do not aim to take power in the sense of political parties. These groups gather in terms of common interests that are organized to affect political authorities. Interest groups are interchangeably defined as pressure groups. Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD), The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), professional unions, Confederation of Worker Trade Unions of Turkey (TÜRK-İŞ), Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), and Hak-İş Trade Union Confederation (HAK-İŞ) are the most effective interest groups in Turkey.
Elite theory relies on the idea of small and elite groups governing the society. It is a political theory that is developed by Wifredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca . For Mosca, all societies are divided into two: rulers and ruled. Ruling classes are minority and ruled classes are majority. Rulers have superior personal qualities. Rulers can use oppression, persuasion, and severity to control masses. Therefore, rulers do not have absolute power over the ruled. Rulers are open to opposition coming from rulers and they cannot act independent from those objections and demands. Pareto claims human actions are ranked and the top ranked are elites in the society. There are elites and non-elites in a given society. In an elite group, there are two groups as well: ruling elites and non-ruling elites. C. Wright Mills identified three key instutions:
1. The major corporations,
2. The military,
3. The federal government.
These elites are called power elite consisting of political elites , military elites and managerial elites of big corporations. In practice, however the interests and activities of the elites were sufficiently similar and interconnected to form a single ruling majority, which Mills termed the power elite (also a book).
Marxist perspectives emphasize means of production since they see economic resources as a source of power. Minority who holds the means of production and exploits majority’s labour force becomes “dominant class”. According to Marxism, the state is an ordinary apparatus for the dominant class. Political and social institutions can only help in the continuing domination and preserving privileges of dominant class on other classes. Family, religion, law, dominant ideologies are all superstructure institutions in assuring domination. For Marx, political power cannot be a reflection of economic power.