by ROSINA MOTILLA (about the author)
September 1999

An essay submitted to The University of North London (Holloway Road) - final year of a BA (Hons). It was the author's own work and was not sponsored by the Crystal palace Campaign.


index - I

Aim; key concepts; example chosen; brief historical approach; Crystal Palace Campaign; power and authority; Lukes understanding; Marx; neo-Marxist theory; Clarke; modern Marxists; Weber; pluralist approach; Pressure Groups and Interest Groups; decision making; Bachrach and Baratz; Parsons; Guiddens; elite nodel; Mills; third face of power; who benefits; Saunders; Bromley Council; conclusion; references; about the author.

The aim of this essay is to analyse the level of power of the individual, within the frame of Leisure and Tourism, in the decision-making process in the western capitalist societies, and more specifically in Britain. I

Due the main political economy theories, as far as power and authority concern, try to answer the main question, first, by analysing the mentioned theories, and finally, by supporting them throughout a real example taken from the Leisure scope. I

The key concepts to consider are: in one hand, the analysis of the earlier mentioned power and authority, as far as the role of the state, government or power agency concern, and, in the other hand, the role of the individual in society throughout the named Pressure Groups and Interest Groups. Indeed, the main question leads to the analysis of the rules of these main actors and, therefore, to the debate of who pulls the rings in our society. I

The example I have chosen to assess and answer the main question is the Crystal Palace Campaign. After carrying out a personal investigation about this current leisure and politic concern, I came to a range of interesting considerations about the subject, which will make up the final conclusions. Finally, in order to provide further proofs and information, an appendix would be enclosed. I

Before carrying on with the main subject, a brief historical approach and introduction of the Crystal Palace Campaign would be useful. It is not the aim of this essay to deeply into this issue but to use it as a support along the work. The following details about the campaign have been mainly taken from the Campaign web page, local and national publications and personal contact with the campaign members.

Crystal Palace lies at the northern edge of Bromley and on the boundaries of four other boroughs: Lambeth. Lewisham, Southwark and Croydon. The Crystal Palace was originally created by Joseph Paxton to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, in Hyde Park, London. After the Exhibition, a new site for the building was to be found. In the summer of 1852 the new redesigned building was set up at Sydenham Hill in south east London. Reopened in 1854, the Crystal Palace provided a national centre for entertainment of the people. On 1936 it was destroyed by fire. The park was then managed by the London County Council succeeded by the Greater London Council. The 1951 Crystal Palace Act gave the responsibility for the site to the LCC and required them to develop the site for purposes of education and recreation. The park passed into the hands of the London Borough of Bromley. The April 1997 planning application for the Palace site at the top of the Park has been made by a private developer - London & Regional Properties Ltd. I

The Crystal Palace Campaign was established in May 1997 by a voluntary group of local people (non-political coalition of residents and businesses with no connection to other groups) opposed to a plan to build a huge leisure complex on the historic site of the Grade II listed Crystal Palace Park in south London. Bromley Council has given outline planning permission for an 18-screen multiplex cinema - the largest in the country - at Crystal Palace Park. The development would include restaurants and a massive rooftop car park. The Campaign is taking action through the Courts to try and stop the development. They claims that if the plan goes ahead, it will damage the whole area and, to a further extent, the daily life of the community. The council stands to gain £6 million from the developers if the plan goes ahead. They also claim that local people have not been consulted in any meaningful way and that, in fact, their views have been disregarded by the council. The main actors are: The cinema operator (UCI), the developer (London & Regional Properties), Bromley Council (co-leaders, Development Control Committee and Chief Planner), the Government, the pressure group (Crystal Palace Campaign), other interest groups ("Friends of the Earth", local traders, etc.), the local community and other agents (the Media, British Heritage, etc.).

To what extent does the Campaign have power to stop the development?. Who has the power as a last resort?. I

Indeed, power and authority are a major issue of political sociology. Many sociologists argue that politics is about power. Political relationships in the modern industrial society shape in every field of the daily social life. Due to the political infrastructure of the western societies, the state plays the most important role, as far as politics concern. Sociologists often distinguish between two forms of power: authority and coercion. The former one is the form of power which is accepted as legitimate, that is right and just, and therefore, obeyed on the basis. It has to be accepted by the population as a whole. British society accept that Parliament has the right to make certain decisions. The second form of power is known as coercion. Unlike authority, this form of power is not regarded as legitimate by those affected. The major theories of "power" to consider are: the Marxist Model, the Pluralist Model, the Elitist Model and the Radical Model. I

Before developing the above mentioned theories, it would be useful to mention Lukes understanding of "power". Although he accepts Weber's definition of power, he developed his concept by arguing that power has three dimension or faces, rather than just one. Like pluralists, he accepts the "first face" of power, the decision-making (i.e. Dahl). However, he thinks that it is misleading to concentrate just in this point for power can be exercised in less obvious ways. This leads to what Lukes calls the "second face" of power, the non-decision making process. According Lukes, power may be used to prevent certain issues being discussed, or decisions about them for being taken. The individual, thus, appears to have power because he has been given the choice. However, he is not free to decide for the choices have been previously limited. Therefore the individual's choice has been constrained (i.e. Bachrach and Baratz). The "third face" of power is the so-called shaping desires dimension (see Lukes, page 6). This approach will be developed and complemented with the political theories along the essay. I

Although Marx never considered leisure, his work and influence is crucial in political economy and sociology studies. Marx was influenced by Hegel's Dialectic, an attempt to see history as a rational process through Praxis which means action ñ more than act of will ñ to reach the final stage in human history, Communism. Along his work, he saw the state as part of the superstructure of exploitative societies. The power of the ruling class derived from ownership, and the role of the state was to maintain the existing relations of production. The individual is no free under the Marxist's view ñ without necessarily accepting its determinism. Bringing up the Crystal Palace issue, the individual or group of individuals (Campaign) are dominated and constrained by the economic power (UCI and LRP) and the political power (Bromley Council and Government). They do not have freedom of choice and may suffer a "false class consciousness". I

The neo-Marxist theory raised from the failure of Marxist's theory of revolution. The most influential neo-Marxist writer is Gramsci, who attempted to explain and develop Marx's model by developing his theory of Hegemony,"Control by gaining the approval and consent of members of society without using force but by persuading the population to accept political moral values of the ruling class". (Gramsci, 1970, p.). The key concept in Gramsci's theory is the Compromise of the ruling class, unlike Marx, who saw the ruling class without any compromise. The modern approach comes from Coates (1984) who points out the limitations on the British state produced by the capitalist society ("finance capital" and the "industrial capital") under a Gramscian perspective. According Gramsci's approach, the Crystal Palace Campaign is not a successful one either for that at one point the ruling class has been using the force (coercion) to persuade to community to accept the plan. Following Coates, Bromley Council and the government decisions are limited by the capitalism system, but they always try to compromise (in theory). I

As far as leisure concerns, it is important the work of Clarke (1950) about leisure in Britain. He points out that leisure power relations take place within a consumer society, which dominates the individual's choice and freedom. He argues that class and culture are the most powerful agents in leisure. Following this, Hegemony is unlikely to succeed. Thus, the developer (LRP), UCI and Bromley Council may use the consensus as a slogan but, in fact, it goes against the community real wants. I

The modern Marxists are concerned with three main issues. First, with the autonomy of the state from the ruling class. Second, with the increasing importance of the state in maintaining ideological control over the masses. Third, with whether modern capitalism inevitably produces a liberal democratic system. In this way, Miliband (1969) saw the state as the instrument of the ruling class, making decisions in their favour. Poulantzas (1969) has a more structuralist view, emphasising ideological domination. He also argues that the state has become relatively autonomous and that this best servers the general interests of the ruling class. This view had been later criticised by Miliband (1970) of being "structural super-determinism". Under this view, Bromley Council makes decisions in favour of the ruling class (capitalist elite). I

Weber's attack to Marxist theory alleged the economic determinism and structuralism of Marxism. He developed the Action Theory where "actors" carry out actions to pursue goals. Their values and their perception of the situation influences their choice of goals and the selection of means to achieve them. He also emphasised the role of ideas rather than technological development.

Weber defined "power" as the ability to achieve your will against the will of others. "Authority" was power accepted as being legitimate. He identified three sources of legitimacy, and thus three ideal types of authority.

As far as authority concerns, the work of Weber is essential to understand the decision-making process. He distinguishes three different forms of authority. The first one is the Charismatic Authority, which rested on affection and personal devotion to the leader, and not to his position. The second one is the Traditional authority, which rested on habit and the acceptance of the social order, and the last one is the Rational-legal authority, which depends on the idea that laws can be enacted and changed by an accepted procedure - obedience is not to individuals, but to bureaucratic rules. Weber argues that authority would never conform to this ideal types. It would tend to be a mixture between at least two of them ñ mostly the Charismatic and the Legal types. This is important to understand which kind of authority have the leaders of the different agencies and institutions which share the power in Britain to see to what extent this issue influences the final decision-making.

Following Weber's theory, Britain is, thus, in one hand, a pluralist democracy, with a dominant elected party at the power, which shares the rational-legal and the charismatic authorities. On the other hand, there is a traditional Monarchy system, with a traditional type of authority, which shapes some of the decision making-process in the socio-political frame. This is a key point to consider with respect to the shaping of politics in Britain. I

The pluralist approach draws mainly from Dahl's empirical study case in New Haven (1961) by showing how decisions were not made by an unrepresentative minority. He also provided a test for the existence of a ruling elite which involved satisfying the following conditions: they must be a cohesive group; their aims must be against the interests of the majority; and their preferences must prevail.

In his early article, Dahl describes "power" as: "A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do". (Dahl, 1957, pp.201-5,a). A little later in the same article he gives another definition: "to involve a successful attempt by A to get a to do something he would not otherwise do." (Dahl, 1957, pp.201-5,b). Note that the first one refers to A's capacity, while the second specifies a successful attempt. This is thus the difference between potential and actual power, between its possession and its exercise. This is central in Dahl's theory to determine who prevails in community decision-making. According this pluralist approach,"The participants with the greatest proportion of successes out of the total number of successes were then considered to be the most influential." (Dahl, 1961, p.336). The stress here is on the study of concrete, observable behaviour. Polsby (1963) argues that identifying "who prevails in decision-making" seems "the best way to determine which individuals and groups have more power in social life"". (Polsby, 1963, p.4). This decisions involve "direct conflict of interests" or "conflict of preferences" . This point links to the important issue of "real" and "false" needs and interests which leads to the "false class consciousness", earlier developed by some writers from the Frankfurt School - Marcuse's theory of "false needs" in leisure. Pluralist focus thus on behaviour in the making decisions over key issues as involving actual, observable conflict of (subjective) interests, seen as express policy preferences, revealed by political participation. The problem with the campaign is to measure the real success. The campaign count on many success (i.e. a 3,600 signature petition, 1,500 local attendance to the Public Meeting, a high funding support, other group's support, etc.). Which are the rules to measure the level of success?. The "more successful" and, thus, the decision who prevails, is the Bromley Council one. I

Directly linked to the above mentioned "interests", are the named Pressure Groups and Interest Groups (P.I.G.S.), organisations which seek to influence government decisions (first face of power), but not actually to govern. The pluralist model gives the framework for developing this groups. Elite pluralist like Jordan and Richardson (1987) have argued that in Britain "pressure groups influence public policy from the point at which issues emerge on to the agenda to the stage of implementation." (Jordan and Richardson, 1987, p.27). Dahl points out that "although all groups and interests do not have the same degree of influence, even the least powerful are able to make their voices heard at some stage in the decision-making process." (quoted in Ham and Hill, 1993, p.29). I

Indeed, the Crystal Palace Campaign should illustrate this point. Whether they influence the decision-making or just openly express their concerns within a legal framework is to be considered. The failure again is to concentrate only on the "first face" of power, the decision-making. The Crystal Palace Campaign is a "promotional" kind of interest group, concerned with the promotion of a social, moral and political cause. The local community and the "Eco-Warriors" (no relation with the campaign!) conforms a "fire-brigade" kind of pressure group (temporary defence groups). I

Bachrach and Baratz (1962, 1963 and 1970) criticised Dahl for considering only the first face of power, this is the decision-making, but not the second face which is agenda-setting - or deciding what the issues that need decisions will be. They also criticise that the "first face" "takes no account of the fact that power may be, and often is, exercised by confining the scope of decision-making to relatively safe issues". (Bachrach and Baratz, 1970, p.6). I

Parsons (1959) introduced a new concept of "power" which is based on functionalist theory and is less popular among pluralists than Dahl's version of Weber's ideas. Power is derived from the authority given to leaders by subjects to achieve consensual goals. There is thus a variable, not fixed, sum of power and, like money, more can be created. The functions of the political system include goal attainment as well as integration and social control. I

Guiddens (1970) criticised Parsons on some grounds. First, power is used to oppress and to exploit and gives access to scarce resources. Thus it does not appear to be an unlimited resource applied to consensual goal attainment. Second, Parsons assumes, but does not demonstrate, the existence of consensual goals. Apparently consensual goals may be imposed by the ideology of the powerful. Unlike Weber, Parsons does not consider the sources of legitimacy. Finally, if power is exercised covertly, it cannot depend on the authority granted by the ruled. I

The Elite Model developed as a critical response to Marx. It questioned both his explanation of the concentration of power and his optimism about a post-revolutionary society which would be free of an oppressive state. It shares with Marxism that power is being held by one group at the expense of others. This group is a minority group, not a class. Classical elitists follow Weber in concentrating on the "first face" of power. Pareto (1963) - stressing the leader's psychological abilities- and Mosca (1939) -more concerned with the organisational abilities - used this theory to attack Marxism. Elites owe their position in society to personal qualities of individuals or organisational ability. The elite is a cohesive minority united and organised against the unorganised masses.I

C.W. Mills wrote in 1956 that the USA was a permanent war economy dominated by a "Power Elite" who occupied the command positions in economic, political and military organisations acting together, with one group sometimes dominating the others. Unlike Marxists he recognises that the concentration of power is based on other factors as well as economic ones. Elite model, applied to the capitalist society, implies a large number of private operators and means that power is held by few powerful multinational corporations. Who has the power in the Crystal Palace case?. It is clear that the main corporations involved (LRP and UCI) guide the decisions of Bromley Council. I

As stated earlier, the last face of "power" was identified by Lukes (1974). He carried out the radical theory of "third face" of power or "shaping desires dimension" power exercised by manipulating the wishes and desires of social groups. Therefore, a social group may be persuaded to accept certain situations in the social sphere by shaping their perceptions and preferences (by socialisation, education, the mass media and so on). Lukes concludes that "A exercises power over B when A affects B in a manner contrary to B's interests". (Lukes, 1974, p.27). He brought up the concept of intentionality from the agent who exercises the power and the personal interests and opinions. Not all power, though, is limited to intentional agency for one may exercise power through negligence, routine action or inaction. Lukes argues that people's wants are formed by the society in which they live and these wants may not be the same as their real interests. The Crystal Palace is the best example once more. Community's wishes and desires have been shaped intentionally by Bromley Council in different ways (no consultation, the media, etc.) against people's real interests. I

The last important point to consider is the idea of who benefits from power. In his case study of Croydon Council in 1980, Saunders (pluralist) argues that the access to power operates in a way which favours some sections against others. Then, the rules of access reinforce the position of powerful groups and works against the powerless. Thus, Saunders found out that the mobilisation among the working class failed to succeed due to the inability to access to power. (Saunders, 1980, p.324)I

I must consider Saunders case study as a precedent of the Crystal Palace case. Twenty years later, the situation seems to be the same, this time with Bromley Council as a main actor in the power and the local community as the disadvantaged pressure group struggling to penetrate decision-making process. I

In brief, Bromley Council held the power of decision in the Crystal Palace Plan. The "capitalists" (UCI and LRP) are the groups which guide Bromley's final decision. The Crystal Palace Campaign is a very well organised pressure group which takes legal actions in the Parliament against the development plan. Having said that, I came to the conclusion that the most "ordinary" citizens have no power on their own to shape the decision-making process. I suppose, as an individual, that person would have to be well connected or rich ñ at least reach enough to mount some sort of legal challenge.

According to Ray Sacks (member of the campaign), the main problem is the intransigent Bromley Council, which over two years has been refusing to meet members of the Crystal Palace Campaign and has been disregarding people's opinion. The last news, as far as I know, Bromley has given final permission for the development. However, according to J. Archer (lawyer), the campaign will go ahead in its attempt to stop the development. In fact, the plan has already been permanent stopped for UCI is reconsidering the investment. The development seems to be suffering the erosion and a drain on their resources (due to the high "counter-campaign" costs) . The Campaign may not be the winner at the end, but it can serve as precedent for further similar attempts from corporations and governments. They will have to consider people's interests if they want to succeed in their proposals. (See documentation enclosed for further references). I

To conclude, it seems clear to me, in this case, that the individual has not had any power for the simple reason that he has never been asked. Bromley Council "assumed" people's consent and avoided the situation where a decision or action should be taken. Moreover, they shaped people's desires by manipulating the media and public opinion This involved the second and third face of power, but it is, indeed, power itself.

I would like to express my gratitude to Ray Sacks and J. Archer for his support, patience and for giving me so much information and I wish the best for the Park and for all the community. I



Bachrach, P. and Baratz, M.S. (1962) Two Faces of power. American Political Science Preview, 56
Bachrach, p. and Baratz, M.S. (1963) Decisions and Non-Decisions: An Industrial Framework. American political Science Preview, 57
Bachrach, P. and Baratz, M.S. (1970) Power and Poverty. Oxford University Press, New York
Clarke, J. and Critcher, C. (1985) The Devil makes work: Leisure in Capitalist Britain. MacMillan, London
Coates, D. (1984) The Context of British politics. Hutchison, London
Dahl, R.A. (1957) The Concept of Power. Behavioural Science, 2
Dahl, R.A. (1961) Who Governs. Yale University Press, New Haven
Giddens, A. (1970)"Power" in the Recent Writings of Talcon Parsons in Worsley
Gramsci, A. (1971) Selection from the Prison Notebooks. Lawrence & Wishart, London
Ham, C. and Hill, M. (1993) The Policy process in the Modern Capitalist State Harvester Wheatsheaf, london
Jordan, A.G. and Richardson, J.J. (1987) British Politics and the Policy Press Unwin Hyman, London
Lukes, S. (1973) Key Concepts in the Social Sciences: Individualism Basil-Blackwell, Oxford
Lukes, S. (1974) Power: A Radical View. MacMillan, London
Lukes, S. (1977) Essays in Social Theory. MacMillan Press Ltd, London
Miliband, R. (1969) The State in Capitalist Society. Weidenfel & Nicolson, London
Miliband, R. (1977) Marxism and Politics. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Mills, C.G. (1956) The Power Elite. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Mosca, C. (1939) The Ruling Class. Trans. H.D. Kahn. McGraw Hill, London
Pareto, V. (1963) A Treatise in General Sociology. Dover Publications, New York
Parsons, T. (1969) Politics and Social Structure. The Free Press, New York
Polsby, N.W. (1963) Community Power and Political Theory. Yale University Press, New Haven
Poulantzas, N. (1973) Power in Britain. Heinemann, London
Saunders, P. (1980) Urban Politics. Penguin, Harmondsworth
Weber, M. (1947) The Theory of Social and economic Organisation. Trans. A.M. Henderson and T. Parsons. Free Press, Glencoe III
Weber, M. (1948) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London I


Crystal Palace Campaign Web Site - HYPERLINK http://www.crystal.dircon.co.uk/
Crystal Palace Campaign - Official Video

APPENDIX (this material not included here)

I-XI: Free Publications and Journals about the Campaign
XII: Original Letter from Mr. J. Archer to the Chief Planner, Mr. Mac Millan, proposing a redevelopment of the former Crystal Palace site
XIII: Official video tape about the Crystal Palace Campaign

About the author - Rosina Motilla

"I finished my degree and I am back in Barcelona, however I haven't forgotten the whole affair. Specially, because of the fact, that I got a very good mark and the congratulations of my tutor. Besides, he was a "local", so he really enjoyed my work and found it interesting.

"Unfortunately, my conclusions are not optimistic for the cause, as you can see. However, I trust to the exception occurring. Could you please give me reports on the campaign, if you have some spare time, because I was quite into it while I was in London and the newspapers in Spain don't mention it at all (football is always more important isn't it?)."

Rosina Motilla
Age: 28
Nationality: Spanish (Barcelona)
Studies: Degree in Tourism (Barcelona); BA (Hons) in Tourism and Leisure
Management (North London University, London).
Atending a Master Degree in Urban Tourism (University of Barcelona).
Authors current e-mail: rosinam@jazzfree.com (new 5/12/01)









Submitted to The University of North London (Holloway Road) - final year of a BA (Hons) in International Tourism and Leisure Management with Arts management ; an essay about the power of the individual in the capitalist society; I chose the Crystal Palace campaign to assess my ideas.

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30/11/99 last updated1/12/99
5/12/99 - correctedB.8 reference, was B.7;authors new e-mail address added 5/12/01;6/12/01