Interest Groups

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. . . . What are interest groups?. Organized group that tries to influence public policyCan include:Unions, trade associations, public interest groups, businesses, state/local gov't, others. . . . . Interest Groups: Good or Evil?. Do interest group corrupt our political system or do they provide a

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Interest Groups

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1. Interest Groups

2. What are interest groups? Organized group that tries to influence public policy Can include: Unions, trade associations, public interest groups, businesses, state/local gov’t, others

3. Interest Groups: Good or Evil? Do interest group corrupt our political system or do they provide a useful and proper function? The ease of interest group formation is a sign of our strong democratic culture May not offer equal representation Push self-interest type policies

4. Why are groups formed? Inadequate or scarce resources Patrons develop Disturbance Theory groups form in part to counteract efforts of other groups Groups arise in response to change Many PIGs developed in response to civil rights, anti-Vietnam, more protection Scarce resources -- groups form to deal with the scarcity. Why do some not organize? higher levels of socioecon. status more likely to form; leadership important.Scarce resources -- groups form to deal with the scarcity. Why do some not organize? higher levels of socioecon. status more likely to form; leadership important.

5. Types of Groups Economic Groups interest groups that function chiefly to produce economic goods and services. Public Interest Groups group that seeks a collective good that will not selectively benefit a member Multi-issue vs. Single-issue groups Econ. Groups -- unions, business, trade associcatoins PIGs --environental groups, common cause, church groups Single issue -- abortion, gun control, etc.Econ. Groups -- unions, business, trade associcatoins PIGs --environental groups, common cause, church groups Single issue -- abortion, gun control, etc.

6. Other Group Types Religious and Ideological Business Groups and Trade Associations Organized Labor Professional Associations (AMA, ABA) Backlash of PIG was a strong conservative movement (Moral Majority, Christian Coalition)Backlash of PIG was a strong conservative movement (Moral Majority, Christian Coalition)

7. Is the system biased? According to a pluralist system: all significant interests of the population should be represented government should listen to the views of all major interest when developing policy Is this the case? One of the problems with pluralism resides in its claim that the group system is reasonably representative. Organization is a political resource that is distributed unequally in society. Certain interests are more powerful than others; these advantaged interests are primarily economic in nature, particularly business firms. One of the problems with pluralism resides in its claim that the group system is reasonably representative. Organization is a political resource that is distributed unequally in society. Certain interests are more powerful than others; these advantaged interests are primarily economic in nature, particularly business firms.

8. Roots and History Framers concerned about the “mischief of factions” Decentralization would neutralize Federalists were themselves a type of interest group

9. Interest Group Functions Lobbying process that groups attempt to assert their influence on the policy process Provides information to policy makers Information is favorable to group Groups provide a representational role for their members. Also, program monitoring Representation -- groups represent their members before government institutions much like a congressperson would. Participation -- means to have citizens pool their resources in order to be better heard Education -- provide information and education to their members, government officials and the public Agenda Building -- bring new issues to the limelight (e.g., women’s groups and equal rights) Program Monitoring -- provide feedback if something is not working correctly.Groups provide a representational role for their members. Also, program monitoring Representation -- groups represent their members before government institutions much like a congressperson would. Participation -- means to have citizens pool their resources in order to be better heard Education -- provide information and education to their members, government officials and the public Agenda Building -- bring new issues to the limelight (e.g., women’s groups and equal rights) Program Monitoring -- provide feedback if something is not working correctly.

10. Lobbying Government Congress provides important source of information often work w/those they share interests reform has focused on disclosure Executive Branch increase lobbying here and at many points Courts Congress -- different forms: congressional testimony, campaign contributions, encouraging letters from constituents, etc. Courts -- groups either sponsor suits or offer amicus briefs.Congress -- different forms: congressional testimony, campaign contributions, encouraging letters from constituents, etc. Courts -- groups either sponsor suits or offer amicus briefs.

11. Other Forms of Lobbying Grassroots lobbying attempts to involve membership in the lobbying activity much more sophisticated today Protest activities

12. Election Activities Endorsements Candidate ratings League of Conservation Voters’ Dirty Dozen Creating parties PACs Election activities -- more involved in the electoral process PACs -- political arm of interest grou; can raise funds and contribute to candidates or party. Typically contribute to those who have helped them in past (incumbents). In 1995, nearly 4000 PACsElection activities -- more involved in the electoral process PACs -- political arm of interest grou; can raise funds and contribute to candidates or party. Typically contribute to those who have helped them in past (incumbents). In 1995, nearly 4000 PACs

13. Interest Group Success Leaders Funding and Resources grants, membership dues, direct mail Membership Agenda Setting capabilities Private interest vs. public goods Free Rider Problem

14. Interest Groups and Their Members Exchange Relationship Groups get financial support from its members, but it must also provide them with some benefits. What are these benefits? Purposive Material Solidarity purposive incentives; these incentives are opportunities to promote a cause in which the members believe. Material benefits -- some kind of financial or substantive benefit such as medical insurance, magazines, etc. Solidarity benefits -- derived from participating with others purposive incentives; these incentives are opportunities to promote a cause in which the members believe. Material benefits -- some kind of financial or substantive benefit such as medical insurance, magazines, etc. Solidarity benefits -- derived from participating with others

15. Can or should we reform the current system? Great differences in resources will likely lead to interest group differences Difficult to do without limiting freedom Are some advantages unacceptable? Perhaps if they limit the opportunity to be heard PAC donations: access versus influence -- is there a difference?

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