The pluralist perspective could have been called by several other names, “democratic,” “behavioral,” “individualistic,” “functionalist,” or “market,” each of which would signify an emphasis and set of issues within the perspective. We chose “pluralist” because it is a common term in the literature, and it states the essential assumptions of the world view in one word.
The pluralist home domain
Within the pluralist home domain, the constitutive units of both organizations and societies are individuals, whose preferences (motives, grievances, tastes) and values (accepted norms, personal commitments, beliefs and perceptions) are the irreducible unit to which other levels of analysis must ultimately be referred. Individuals take action and join groups compatible with their preferences and values. Interactions and exchanges among individuals form all of the diverse social entities of a modern society.
Organizations (voluntary associations, pressure groups, state agencies, political parties, and even firms) represent aggregates of individuals in diverse ways, respond to different preferences among individuals, and remain in existence as long as they retain enough support. The multiple relations among groups and organizations normally generate a societal consensus through the communication of preferences and values, the formation of public opinion, and the responsive actions of leaders.
Individual behavior is divided into that which conforms to the values that integrate the society and that which deviates from them. There are major debates among its adherents over the conditions for change of values, and the best way to socialize individuals into the appropriate values necessary for social stability.