Interest Groups. Mr. Chamberlain. What is an Interest Group. Organization that seeks to influence public policy Corporations Unions Professionals Civil Rights Women Public Interest Social Welfare. Why are Interest Groups so common in the US?. Why interest groups are common in the US.
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Interest Groups Mr. Chamberlain
What is an Interest Group • Organization that seeks to influence public policy • Corporations • Unions • Professionals • Civil Rights • Women • Public Interest • Social Welfare
Why interest groups are common in the US • Variety of social movements surrounding major social issues • Races, ethnicities, cultures and gender • Religions – 72 religions/60,000 members or more • Separation of Powers/Constitution • President, Courts, Congress (committees and sub.) • Results in many groups representing similar groups i.e. farmers – State, County and Federal Levels • Teachers – BAEA, PSEA and NEA • Political Parties – weak = direct gov’t interaction • Strong = party/interest group work together
Rise of Interest Groups • 70% created after 1960 (60’s and 70’s BOOM) 4 Causes of Interest Groups • Early 1800’s – 1890’s: Broad Economic Developments • Farming, Factories, Steel workers, Mining • Mass union membership/ Rise of Corporations • Government Policy • War creates veterans that need benefits • Gov’t allows organizations to certify members – lawyers, doctors, etc.
Rise of Interest Groups • Social Movements (Often young people • Anti-slavery 1830’s and 40’s • Prohibition • Anti-war and Civil Rights – 1960’s • Public Interest due to government involvement (60’s and 70’s) • Environment - Handicapped • Social Welfare - Women
Create an Idea for your own interest group • Name – Acronym (PETA) • Goals • Institutional or Membership based • Incentive – Why would people join? • Solidary • Material • Purposive • Is your idea for your interest group a social movement?
Institutional Interest Group • Individuals or organizations that represent other organizations • AFL-CIO – Array of unions • The American Farm Bureau Federation • Often law firms that represent companies or specific public interest • Pacific Legal Foundation – Private Property and endangered species list
Membership Interests • Organizations with support of individual citizens • NAACP • Sierra Club • PETA
Incentive – what YOU get out of doing something Why Join? Solidary incentive – Pleasure Status Companionship - PTA, Rotary Club, NAACP, - Small, Local Chapters, Face – to Face - Important to local politics but raise money for national initiatives
Material Incentive • Money, services or things of value you get in return for joining • Sierra Club • Magazine subscription • NEA • Magazine • Low cost insurance (auto and life)
Purposive Incentive • Opportunity to promote a cause you believe in • Citizen Groups • Single Issue – NRA, Right to life, Pro-choice • Ideological – Broader issues – • Christian Coalition – School prayer, abortion, and TV • Public Interest • Major incentives: Not a physical/financial incentive • Air you breathe/Forests you walk in/Ocean you swim in • Attain more or keep your rights • Issue: Free rider • NPR - some pay but everyone benefits
Solving the Free Rider Problem • Offer material incentives that would provoke people to join the groups • Magazines • Gifts for joining
Public Interest • Often issues that are controversial • Shaped by the mood of the times • Often advance causes through lawsuits • Challenge / Support existing legislation or proposed legislation
Conservative and Liberal Public-Interest Law Firms • Liberal • ACLU • NAACP • Women’s League Defense Fund • File suit on behalf of ind. • Submit Amicus Curiae • Conservative • Pacific Legal Foundation • Center for Individual Rights
Public-Interest Think Tanks • Liberal • Children’s Defense Fund • Center for Defense • Research – Books, articles, Op-Ed, Conferences and Test. • Conservative • CATO Institute • Heritage Foundation
Expansion of Public-Interests • Difficult to get people to join interests with purposive incentives • Answer lies in social movements • Widely shared demand for change • Important – Social Movements spawn many organizations and groups that deal with many issues revolving around the movement • Staff of Interest Groups – Activists • Social Movements offer different degrees of dedication • Some more liberal or conservative than others
Social Movements • Environment • 1890’s Sierra Club • 1930’s Wilderness Society • 60’s – 70’s Environmental Defense Fund • Feminist • 1830’s, 1890’s, 1920’s and the 60’s • Union • Others – • Civil Rights, Immigration, Homosexual Rights
Interest Group Funding • Foundation Grants • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation • Rockefeller Family Fund • Ford Foundation • 1/3 received ½ or more of their funding from these groups • Federal Grants – Not for the lobby itself • Federal Contracts – Not for the lobby itself • Companies/Individuals interested in movement • Direct Mail • Teaser, Famous endorsements, Arouse emotions, etc. • Evolved into telemarketing and emails
Influence of Interest Groups Size and Wealth used to matter Now every group can throw money around Campaign Finance laws – NO soft money Generate dramatic news Mobilize Voters File a suit Supply information to Congress
#1 – Supplying Credible Info. Detailed, Specific and up to date Politicians feel more comfortable when many liberal interest groups agree on an issue If they disagree they will not support But remember, for every specialist/expert favoring a liberal view, you have specialists, experts and polls leaning to the right