When discussing the nature of power in any given society, the idea of pluralism argues that there should be multiple influences or sources of authority to ensure one group or entity does not become overly powerful. In our society, for example, power generally rests in the hands of the government. However, the influence that is exerted by the following also factors into pluralism:
- The media
- Schools and school systems
- Culture as a whole
These things help serve as a check on the amount of power and control that the government can have in the lives of individuals. Individuals rarely, if ever, simply accept the position of those in power without considering alternative positions or perspectives, demonstrating the influence that this alternate institutions can have.
From a philosophical perspective, the idea of pluralism is rooted in the notion that there can be multiple realities, each relative to the individual in question. When an event takes place, the reality for one person might not be the reality for another person; living in the same society might result in one reality for one person and another reality for someone else. Similarly, there can be multiple definitions of truth based on the individual and what they have experienced; this idea of cultural relativism is the hallmark of pluralism as it applies to one's perception of right and wrong. The notion that existence is more than just what exists or more than just what one perceives, and instead is a combination of these factors, is representative of the idea of pluralism.