Based on a study of recent political behaviour in a rural region of India, the author presents a critique of pluralist theories of democracy and advances a new approach to political sociology. Professor Lele insists that the politicians of Maharashtra sustain, however dispersed, a hegemonic class rule. The processes of development and modernization directly serve strategies of private gain through the public sphere; the elites continue to enclose the public sphere while propagating the myth of open competition. Case studies of local, state, and national politicans illustrate this behaviour and show how competition between powerful alliances is effectively moderated.
The concluding section proposes a new comparative approach to political sociology. It demonstrates the inherent contradiction between domination and community, and argues for a historical analysis of the rise and fall of classes and ideologies. Professor Lele challenges the emphasis on modernization and instrumentality in contemporary social science, and suggests that the insights of Marx and Weber can lead to a more previse and universal framework for the study of societies.