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soc 102-C Wright Mills

by: Freddie816

soc 102-C Wright Mills SOC 102

GPA 3.3

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lecture on the theory of the triangle of power
Contemporary Sociological Theory
Class Notes
soc, sociology, 102, jepson, Contemporary, triangle, Of, power, Conflict, Theory
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Freddie816 on Thursday April 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 102 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Jepson in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Sociological Theory in Sociology at University of California - Los Angeles.


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Date Created: 04/21/16
    4/19/16    ● C. Wright mills and conflict theory­the power elite model   ○ Mills went completely against Parsons theory on functionalism and focused more  on Weber’s theory of MPP to develop his theory. Mills asked the main question of  who holds the power in society? He came up with the power elite model. He  argued that society is governed by a small number of unelected officials who make  all the major decisions in our society: he refers to this group of elites as the  triangle of power:  ■ Military segment (made up of 5 star generals)  ■ Economic segment  (made up of corporate CEOs from the largest  corporations)  ■ Political segment (president and highest ranking officials in the executive  branch)  ● Note that Congress is not in the triangle of powers­these are  elected officials, the power elite is not elected  ○ Mills argues that the unity of the power elite is reinforced through social and  cultural ties, such as throuintermarriage (elites marry elites), kin, religion  (evangelical christianity), and a similar educational background   ○ Exchange of members:   interlocking directorates (revolving door)  ■ Robert shells and iron arm oligarchy (mill’s student)  ● Democracy is basically screwed  ● Oligarchy rules and is controlled by a few   ○ Furthermore, Mills argued that the power elite was a historical creation that gained  power through a series of political events i.e­war. Mills demonstrates this through  the organization of society before and after the war. Before the war:   ■ The federal government was small and irrelevant to the people  ■ The military was weak  ■ No one individual occupied too much power  ○ After the war:  ■ Government began intervening more and more into people’s lives   ■ The military expanded   ■ US became a “lone superpower”  ○ Thus, as a historical construction, the power elite can be challenged and resisted  by the forces of democracy (the people). Mills argued that there is thus still hope.  (attempts to warn society)   ● Overview  ○ Mills rejected Parsons theory of structural functionalism, not every structure in  society serves a larger purpose of helping the economy/not everyone works in  harmony (structures are not all functional)  ○ Not all structures in society are necessary and legitimate   ○ Emphasized conflict, exploitation and inequality  ○ Power is held by a few (elite)/triangle of power whose interests are what govern  society (not the values of the people)      4/19/16  ■ The power elite does not care about greater social issues such as gay  marriage  ■ Labor unions are almost non­existent   ○ Sociologists should apply their research and fight for a greater cause (activism) 


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