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The Community Oral Health Program: Pluralist and Elitist Perspectives

Introduction

Most influence groups interested in public health issues are known to derive their power from various sources (Heaney, 2006). Sociologists and other scholars have developed a number of perspectives with the view to demonstrating how influence groups become powerful actors in health promotion, advocacy and policymaking (Longest, 2010). This paper compares the pluralist and elitist perspectives to show how they can be used by influence groups engaged in a community oral health program designed to reduce dental caries in young children.

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Comparison of Perspectives

The pluralist perspective in health promotion and advocacy settings is hinged on the concept of how power is distributed among many groups that share a common purpose or objective (Mawhinney, 2001). For example, members of professional associations dealing with oral health may derive power from the pluralist perspective by virtue of their shared objective or purpose. The elite perspective, on the other hand, argues that power is concentrated in the hands of a selected group of individuals with exceptional personal qualities such as massive wealth, political correctness and specialized expertise (Longest, 2010). For example, a few wealthy individuals within the community may have a dominant influence on which health initiatives are implemented and which ones are denied the needed funding.

Influence groups using a pluralist perspective believe in the dispersal and fragmentation of power within the unit and share a conviction that groups, rather than individuals, provide a more effective means of representation. On the contrary, interest groups that use an elitist perspective in influencing health programs and policies derive their power from factors such as wealth, tradition, expertise or religious authority. Additionally, while power in influence groups using an elitist perspective is usually concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, the situation is different in pluralist-oriented influence groups by virtue of the fact that such groups derive power in the strength of numbers. Lastly, policies in pluralist-oriented influence groups are established through bargaining and compromise, while elitist-oriented influence groups use individual predispositions to change the status quo (Longest, 2010; Mawhinney, 2001).

The Most Valid Perspective

The most valid perspective for the selected dental public health issue is the pluralist perspective. A community-based oral health program to reduce dental caries in young children may require the input of community members if all the issues and challenges are to be successfully addressed. The elite, in my view, may not be in a position to prioritize the challenges facing the community with regard to dental caries prevalence as entry into elitist-oriented influence groups is difficult (Longest, 2010). Additionally, pluralist-oriented influence groups such as professional dental associations and oral health coalitions may be in a better placed to bargain with other like-minded groups to come up with an effective approach that could be used to prevent dental caries in young children. Lastly, the validation of the pluralist perspective finds support from the argument that it is often dangerous to consolidate power in the hands of a few individuals as the concerns of these people may be different from those affecting the community. Consequently, influence groups using the pluralist perspective will have more capacity to involve the community in decision making by virtue of their large representation and cooperation capabilities.

Conclusion

This paper has compared and contrasted the pluralist perspective with the elitist perspective in terms of how they can be used by influence groups to address the problem of dental caries in young children. Drawing from the findings of this paper, it can be concluded that pluralist-oriented influence groups are better placed to address the dental public health issue as they are able to prioritize challenges and bargain for a fair and inclusive compromise.

References

Heaney, M.T. (2006). Brokering health policy: Coalitions, parties, and interest group influence. Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law, 31(5), 887-944.

Longest, B.B. (2010). Health policymaking in the United States (5th ed.).Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press.

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Mawhinney, H.B. (2001). Theoretical approaches to understanding interest groups. Educational Policy, 15(1), 187-214.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, April 29). The Community Oral Health Program: Pluralist and Elitist Perspectives. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-community-oral-health-program-pluralist-and-elitist-perspectives/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, April 29). The Community Oral Health Program: Pluralist and Elitist Perspectives. https://studycorgi.com/the-community-oral-health-program-pluralist-and-elitist-perspectives/

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StudyCorgi. "The Community Oral Health Program: Pluralist and Elitist Perspectives." April 29, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-community-oral-health-program-pluralist-and-elitist-perspectives/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Community Oral Health Program: Pluralist and Elitist Perspectives." April 29, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-community-oral-health-program-pluralist-and-elitist-perspectives/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Community Oral Health Program: Pluralist and Elitist Perspectives'. 29 April.

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