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[whitespace] Bill Domhoff Domhoff Rules: Legendary UCSC prof Bill Domhoff reads from both new and past books on subjects as diverse as dream theory and power politics at the Book Cafe on Wednesday, May 27.


G. William Domhoff's books serve as clarion calls for '60s activists demanding a more egalitarian society

By Bobby Rimbaud

FEW SOCIOLOGISTS IN the past 30 years have had as big an impact on American political culture as G. William Domhoff. Beginning with his blockbuster Who Rules America?, first published in 1967, and quickly followed by The Higher Circles and The Bohemian Grove and Other Retreats, Domhoff laid to rest the myth of a democratic America and insisted upon a ruling-class analysis of U.S. corporate power.

Trained formally as a psychologist, Domhoff also has had a significant impact on contemporary dream theory in a pair of books, The Mystique of Dreams and Finding Meaning in Dreams: A Quantitative Approach.

But it is as a disciple of C. Wright Mills, whose 1956 book The Power Elite shattered the complacency of Eisenhower America, that the scrappy Domhoff made his mark as a social commentator and political rabble-rouser. Four of his titles are among the top 50 bestselling sociology books of all time.

Three decades after Who Rules America? was first published, Domhoff is still at it.

In a pair of important new works--Diversity in the Power Elite (co-written with Richard Zweigenhaft) and a thoroughly revised edition of Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000-- Domhoff, a popular professor emeritus at UCSC, continues his analysis of America's ruling class.

What he finds is disturbing. While women, gays, lesbians and people of color have made inroads into the "power elite" over the past 30 years, Domhoff argues convincingly that most of those who have entered the inner circles of corporate America come from similar class and educational backgrounds. As a result, they embrace the same political perspectives and sense of entitlement as their more traditional white-male counterparts.

African Americans, in particular, have been excluded systematically from sharing in corporate power, Domhoff argues. Asian and Jewish Americans have faired a little better. Women, gays, lesbians and Latinos have made significant advances in middle management, but their ranks remain stratified, and their ascendancy to real positions of power remains rare. The various "ceilings" that prevent them from rising into the corporate elite continue to be permanently ensconced.

In spite of affirmative action programs, Domhoff contends in Diversity in the Power Elite, the U.S. is still a "bastion of class privilege and conservatism," with a power structure defined by "Christian white males."

As he looks toward the future in Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000, Domhoff is less than sanguine about the possibilities of meaningful change. While the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and a revitalized labor movement portend possibilities for shifts in power and influence, Domhoff contends "the power elite has the economic and political resources to continue its domination. ... For the most part, [it will be] business as usual."


G. William Domhoff gives a talk on his recent books on Wednesday, May 27, (7:30pm) at the Book Cafe, 1145 41st Ave., Capitola. For more info, call 408/462-4415.

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From the May 28-June 3, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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