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Interest Groups in American Politics. An organized group of people with shared goals and a desire to influence government action Some groups have explicitly political origins while others have nonpolitical origins. Interest Groups are different from Parties.

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interest groups in american politics
Interest Groups in American Politics
  • An organized group of people with shared goals and a desire to influence government action
  • Some groups have explicitly political origins while others have nonpolitical origins
interest groups are different from parties
Interest Groups are different from Parties
  • Parties focus much more on elections
  • Parties have broader interests to represent
  • Party membership is not as formal
  • Parties perform important psychological functions
why do people join groups
Why Do People join Groups?
  • Shared Interests?
    • Pluralist view
  • Selective Benefits?
    • Assumes Rational behavior
    • Benefits may be tangible or intangible
  • Combination of Both
    • Selective, tangible benefits
      • Material or informational
    • Solidary benefits (selective)
    • Purposive Benefits
interest groups perform many important societal functions
Interest Groups Perform Many important Societal Functions
  • Aggregate and represent interests
  • Opportunity for political participation
    • SES bias
  • Help formulate public policy
    • Agenda setting
  • Candidate Recruitment
  • Evaluate programs
access
Access
  • Successful groups are those that gain access to the policy making process.
    • Actual involvement of interest groups in the decision-making process within government.
    • Influence within government rather than influence on government.
  • Access can be developed over time via other activities that allow groups to develop close relationships with government officials.
how do groups influence legislators
How do Groups Influence Legislators?
  • Going Public
  • Direct and Grassroots Lobbying
    • Who are the lobbyists?
  • Supplying Information
how do groups influence the bureaucracy
How Do Groups Influence the Bureaucracy?
  • Supplying Information
  • Influence executive appointments
how do groups influence the courts
How do Groups Influence the Courts?
  • Sponsor litigation
  • Amicus Curiae briefs
  • Influence Judicial Selection
groups can also influence election outcomes
Groups Can Also Influence Election Outcomes
  • Political Action Committee (PAC)
    • An organization that raises and distributes campaign funds for elective office
  • Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA)
  • The number of PACs has increased dramatically since the 1970s
  • Spending Loopholes
      • Soft Money (now restricted under McCain/Feingold)
      • Independent Expenditures
  • Contribution Strategies
determinants of group effectiveness
Determinants of Group Effectiveness
  • Opposition
  • Nature of goal (positive or negative)
  • $$$
  • Membership
  • Potential for coalitions