Structural pluralism is "the potential for political competition in communities". The degree of structural pluralism is used to examine how societies are structured, and specifically is a way to explain coverage differences in media markets. Structural pluralism is studied in philosophical, sociological and communication literature.
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Structural pluralism is what makes civic community a unique form of civil society (Morton, 2000). Structural pluralism represents the extent to which the community has an open and inclusive structure that permits minority voices and opinions to be heard when citizens and citizen groups are addressing community problems (Young, 1999).
Communities are discussed in terms of having common institutions, such as governing or other political bodies, religious, educational and economic institutions. These bodies or institutions help to maintain the social order within the community.
This concept comes from the field of sociology, but prior to that, stems from writings by Hegel (1821) on civic society. This comes also from the functionalist writings of Émile Durkheim and Herbert Spencer (Hindman, 1999).
Durkheim writes that there are two organizating principle types of societies, that most like the premodern communities, called mechanical solidarity in which ethnic and extended families were central; and that called organic solidarity which examines the relationships of interdependence based on other components, such as work, and social organizations (Durkheim, 1933). These are equated to today's rural and urban societies respectively.