Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Harlan Garnett Wilson


Complexity, Analytic, Pluralists, Anti-pluralists, Interest-Group, Pluralism


The purpose of this essay is to develop the notion of complexity as a conceptual tool for a comparative analysis of the proponents and critics of Interest Group Pluralism. The primary question I will attempt to answer concerns the ways in which these proponents and critics differ in respect to their conceptions of (a) analytical complexity, (b) descriptive complexity and, (c) prescriptive complexity.

Important to note at the outset of this essay are its limitations. First, it is not possible to cover all of the proponents and critics of Interest-Group Pluralism in this essay, for the amount of literature is massive. What I will attempt to cover is a sampling of' those so-called ''pluralists" and "anti-pluralists" who concern themselves with urban and community politics.

Second, the terms "pluralist" and "anti-pluralist" used to describe two categories of political analysis have some difficulties. The terms are primarily used in this essay for the sake of clarity.

Third, although pluralists differ from anti-pluralists in many ways, I have chosen to discuss these differences in terms of complexity. I do not intend to imply that the use of the notion of complexity is the only way, or even the best way, to differentiate these two categories of political analysis.

Fourth, because the emphasis of this essay is on the differentiation between pluralists and anti-pluralists, it is not possible to cover all the salient issues concerning the notion of complexity. I will attempt to focus on those aspects of complexity which I believe are the most relevant to the pluralist/anti-pluralist controversy.

This essay will be divided into four sections to discuss the relevancy of four distinct categories of complexity/simplicity to the political analyses of pluralists and antipluralists. These four categories are as follows: (1) structures of political interaction (structural complexity) ; (2) variables or concepts used in political analysis (analytic complexity) ; (3) description of structures of interaction (descriptive complexity) ; (4) prescriptions for structures of interaction (prescriptive complexity) While others have used slightly different categories to analise complexity, I believe that these categories make for the most useful distinction between pluralists and anti-pluralists.