I made a slight factual error in yesterday’s blog. I said that Sweden has a more equitable distribution of wealth than both the UK and the United States. I should have checked it out first on Professor G. William Domhoff’s website, WhoRulesAmerica.net.
In a recently updated article titled “Wealth, Income, and Power,” that’s on his website, Professor Domhoff presents a table comparing the percentage of wealth held by the wealthiest 10% of the population in various western countries. It turns out I was half right: in the United States, the wealthiest 10% own 69.8% of all wealth, whereas in Sweden, it’s 58.6% and in the UK it’s 56%. So Sweden has a far more equitable distribution of wealth than the U.S., but a slightly less equitable distribution than in the U.K.
BTW, I highly recommend both the WhoRulesAmerica.net website and Professor Domhoff’s two masterpieces, Who Rules America (which has been updated since the original 1967 edition) and The Powers That Be. For more than 40 years, Domhoff has studied who has power in the United States, why they have it and how they use it. He combines key social insight with the most advanced techniques for gathering and analyzing data.
Although Professor Domhoff wouldn’t know me from Adam, I have been his disciple since I first ran into his books in the Printer’s Ink bookstore in Palo Alto, California in the early 80s. Both Who Rules America and The Powers That Be appear on my list of 15 books (actually 14 books and one article) that I give to all young professionals who go to work for me and recommend to students when I lecture at universities. I have used Domhoff’s “policy formation process” chart to help me advise clients who want to influence public opinion about an issue. This model of how powerful people effect change in a post-industrial representative democracy has also helped me to understand many of the moves made by influential individuals, religious groups, politicians, business associations, think tanks and the other entities seeking to control or influence our complex society. For example, I’ve referenced the model and Domhoff in blog entries twice over the last year.
I usually fact-check every assertion of fact I make in my blog entries. The one time I didn’t, I should have. But in a way, I’m glad, because it gave me an excuse to speak about William Domhoff and his very important research and ideas.
And mentioning Professor Domhoff gives me the excuse to present my entire list of 14 books and one article that I would recommend to any student of public relations or mass communications, or to anyone who wants to understand the process of communicating for organizations in civil and sometimes not so civil society:
- “Politics & the English Language”/George Orwell
- Ars Poetica/Horace
- Course in General Lingustics/Ferdinand La Saussure
- Manufacturing Consent/Noam Chomsky & Edward Hermann
- Propaganda/Bernard Taithe & Tim Thornton, ed.
- Social History of Art/Arnold Hauser
- The Elements of Style/William Strunk, Jr. & E.B. White
- The Lonely Crowd/David Riesman
- The Power Elite/C. Wright Mills
- The Powers That Be/William Domhoff
- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions/Thomas Kuhn
- The Theory of the Leisure Class/Thorsten Veblen
- Who Rules America Now/William Domhoff
- Working/Studs Terkel