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Oligarchy vs. Plutocracy: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Oligarchy is rule by a small group based on various factors, while plutocracy is governance by the wealthy.
Oligarchy vs. Plutocracy

Key Differences

Oligarchy involves control by a few individuals or families, potentially based on factors like nobility, wealth, or corporate interests. Plutocracy, however, specifically denotes rule by the wealthiest members of society.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 08, 2023
In an oligarchy, power might be derived from various sources like military strength, political alliances, or hereditary status. In plutocracy, economic wealth is the primary source of power and influence.
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Oligarchies can exist in various forms of government, including democracies and monarchies. Plutocracies are characterized by the influence of wealth on political decisions and policies.
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The decision-making in an oligarchy is not necessarily linked to wealth alone, unlike in a plutocracy where financial power is key.
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Oligarchies may have a broader base of power, encompassing different sectors of society, whereas plutocracies focus on the economic elite.
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Comparison Chart

Basis of Power

Various (wealth, family, military)
Wealth
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Key Influence

Political, military, or hereditary strength
Economic wealth
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Government Form

Can exist within different government types
Focused on wealth in any government type
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Decision-Making

Based on group's interests, not solely wealth
Driven by economic interests
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Power Distribution

Among a few families or groups
Among the wealthiest individuals
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Oligarchy and Plutocracy Definitions

Oligarchy

Rule by a small group.
The oligarchy maintained control over the government.
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Nov 25, 2023

Plutocracy

The rich elite's control.
The government was a plutocracy in all but name.
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Nov 25, 2023

Oligarchy

Power held by a small elite.
The oligarchy consisted of influential families.
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Plutocracy

Rule by the wealthy.
The plutocracy influenced economic policies.
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Oligarchy

Minority control over a community.
The city was run by an oligarchy of merchants.
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Plutocracy

Affluence governing politics.
The plutocracy prioritized corporate interests.
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Oligarchy

A government by the few.
In an oligarchy, decisions are made by a select group.
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Plutocracy

Governance dominated by the rich.
In the plutocracy, millionaires had the most say.
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Oligarchy

Elite rule, regardless of wealth.
The oligarchy included both wealthy and influential leaders.
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Nov 25, 2023

Plutocracy

Government by the wealthy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
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Oct 19, 2023

Plutocracy

A wealthy class that controls a government.
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

Those making up such a government.
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Plutocracy

A government or state in which the wealthy rule.
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

A state governed by a few persons.
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Oct 19, 2023

Plutocracy

Government by the wealthy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

A government run by only a few, often the wealthy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Plutocracy

A controlling class of the wealthy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

Those who make up an oligarchic government.
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Oct 19, 2023

Plutocracy

A form of government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the wealthy classes; government by the rich; also, a controlling or influential class of rich men.
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

A state ruled by such a government.
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Oct 19, 2023

Plutocracy

A political system governed by the wealthy people
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Oct 19, 2023

Oligarchy

A form of government in which the supreme power is placed in the hands of a few persons; also, those who form the ruling few.
All oligarchies, wherein a few men domineer, do what they list.
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Oct 19, 2023

Plutocracy

Wealth as a basis for power.
The plutocracy was evident in their lavish lifestyles.
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Nov 25, 2023

Oligarchy

A political system governed by a few people
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Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can oligarchies be based on wealth?

Yes, but not exclusively.
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What is a plutocracy?

A system where the wealthy hold power and influence.
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What is an oligarchy?

A form of government where a few individuals or groups have control.
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Is plutocracy always about money?

Yes, wealth is the key factor.
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Do oligarchies focus on economic policies?

Not always, as their interests can be broader.
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How do oligarchies gain power?

Through various means like family, military strength, or political influence.
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Can a democracy become an oligarchy?

Yes, if power becomes concentrated in a few hands.
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Can a democracy turn into a plutocracy?

Yes, if the wealthy disproportionately influence politics.
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Are oligarchies hereditary?

Sometimes, especially if power is family-based.
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Are plutocracies hereditary?

Not necessarily; wealth can change hands more fluidly.
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How do plutocracies gain power?

Primarily through economic wealth.
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Is a plutocracy common?

It can emerge in any system where wealth gains undue influence.
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Do plutocracies influence economic policies?

Yes, often to benefit the wealthy.
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Are plutocrats always in government positions?

Not always, but they influence government decisions.
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How do citizens view oligarchies?

Views vary, but there's often concern about unequal power distribution.
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Can oligarchs be wealthy?

Yes, but their power isn't solely from wealth.
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Is an oligarchy a common form of government?

It's seen in various forms across history and locations.
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How are plutocracies viewed?

Generally negatively, as they represent wealth-based inequality.
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Can oligarchies be part of a democracy?

Yes, if a small group controls a democratic system.
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Are plutocracies stable?

They can be unstable due to social and economic disparities.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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