k. Overview of Past and Present Sectors

Overview of Past and Present Sectors

The concept of a sector was described in the previous article. A brief overview of common past and present sectors is given below.

Government. In most nations, government is a significant sector, and members of its upper strata belong to the establishment. Consequently, other members of the establishment can influence government policy and legislation in the interest of their sector. They can also influence government, either directly or indirectly, in their personal interest.

Legal Sector. In most nations the legal sector is responsible for administering government legislation. The relationship between government and this sector tends, therefore, to be a formal one. However, the independence of the legal sector from government influence varies from nation to nation. Such independence does not preclude informal trading within the establishment which can, if necessary, be covert.

Armed Forces and Police. The armed forces and police are sectors whose role is the protection of civilians from crime and aggression. To carry out their function they are conferred substantial power, including the use of physical force. In some nations this coercive power is restrained by government and cultural institutions, but in others the sector has used it to establish military dictatorships or police states.

Agriculture and Land Ownership. In the past, landowners held considerable power through their control of the agricultural economy, and their ability to raise taxes and armies from within their agricultural hierarchies. In the West, the influence of land-owning families has declined substantially since the industrial revolution. However, agricultural corporations continue to hold some influence.

Royalty. Royal families arose at a time when there were far fewer sectors, and the principal one was land ownership and agriculture. Taxes and armies could be raised from this sector, and this gave its highest status individuals much power. Those most successful in negotiation and conflict became royalty, and many nations were formed in this way. Support for royal status was maintained by trading rights to land in return.

To this day, some nations are still ruled by absolute monarchs. In other nations, royalty has adapted to take on a constitutional role. In most, however, they have been replaced by presidential republics or dictatorships. The advantages and disadvantages of each method of governance will be discussed in future articles. However, where they continue to exist, there can be no doubt that royalty forms a very significant and influential part of the establishment.

Religion. Historically, religions have held great power, but this is now in decline in the West. The basis of their power was their ability to control populations through an unquestioning belief in the religion’s worldview. Kingdoms and empires have also relied on the support of religions for their rise. Most kings have declared themselves to rule by divine right. Others have established themselves as leader of the state religion. In extreme cases, religions have taken the reins of governmental power and have established theocracies.

Industry and Commerce. More recently, the power of agricultural landowners has been displaced by that of the leaders of industrial and commercial organisations. The basis of their power is, of course, the wealth that they generate from the resources they control. This can be offered to those with whom they are trading in the form of lucrative directorships, consultancies, or commercial support. In some cases, where policing is lax, trading can be in the form of simple bribes.

Finance.  In the present day, the financial sector controls much of a nation’s capital, industry, and commerce. In the West, it has, to a very large extent, replaced the upper strata of those sectors, and exercises great influence within the establishment.

Trade Unions. In the 20th Century, Western trade unions held significant sway over the work force, and an ability to disrupt industry and commerce. Whilst union activities were primarily in the interest of the workforce, it also gave their upper strata access to the establishment and an ability to trade within it. Government legislation and improvements in living standards have done much to reduce this influence. Nevertheless, union leaders retain a degree of influence over left wing political parties by virtue of their ability to influence parts of the electorate.

The Media. The media sector has a significant ability to influence the population. On the positive side, it exposes wrongdoing in other sectors, particularly government. However, on the negative side, there can be a strong relationship between privately owned media organisations, and political parties. This political partisanship is still overtly expressed in many media outlets. In some nations, it has brought the media sector into conflict with governments or other sectors, resulting in the coercion, intimidation, and closure of many media organisations.

I will discuss emerging sectors and the way that sectors interact in the next article.