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INTEREST GROUPS. Chapter 16 O’Connor and Sabato American Government: Continuity and Change. INTEREST GROUPS. In this chapter we will cover … What Are Interest Groups? The Roots and Development of American Interest Groups What Do Interest Groups Do?

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Presentation Transcript
interest groups


Chapter 16

O’Connor and Sabato

American Government:

Continuity and Change

interest groups1

In this chapter we will cover…

  • What Are Interest Groups?
  • The Roots and Development of American Interest Groups
  • What Do Interest Groups Do?
  • What Makes an Interest Group Successful?
what are interest groups
What Are Interest Groups?
  • Interest Group (special interests) is an organization of people with similar policy goals that tries to influence the political process to try to achieve those goals.
  • Interest groups try to influence every branch and every level of government.
the roots and development of american interest groups
The Roots and Development of American Interest Groups
  • Interest groups have been part of the American political landscape since the country’s founding.
  • James Madison in Federalist #10 argued for a proliferation of groups so that no one group could get hegemony over the other groups.
  • The open nature of the American government invites organized political participation.
the roots and development of american interest groups1
The Roots and Development of American Interest Groups
  • National Groups Emerge (1830-80)
  • Progressive Era (1890-1920)
    • Organized Labor – the American Federation of Labor (AFL) (1886)
    • Business and Trade Associations – The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) (1895)
  • The Rise of the Interest Group State (1960s and 1970s)
    • Religious and Ideological Groups
    • Business Groups, Trade and Professional Associations
    • Organized Labor
what do interest groups do
What Do Interest Groups Do?
  • The most common and effective interest group technique is lobbying or seeking to influence and persuade others to support your group's position.
  • Lobbyists are hired by your college or university, businesses, foreign countries, trade associations, and anyone else wanting their voice heard on policy matters.
  • A Lobbyists is someone whose task it is to influence legislation or policymaking. And how a law is enforced
interest groups techniques
Direct Techniques:


Private meetings


Drafting Legislation

Social Occasions

Providing Political Info

Supplying Nomination suggestions

Indirect Techniques:

Generating Public Pressure

Groundswell of public pressure

Use Constituents as Lobbyists

Building Alliances with other groups

Interest Groups Techniques
honest lobbyists
Honest Lobbyists
  • A lobbyist must be honest and truthful if he or she wants to remain effective.
  • Access to lawmakers is critical and if a lobbyist gets a reputation of being untruthful or disingenuous legislators doors will close.
  • Of course, lobbyists put their group's position in a favorable light but good lobbyists will also make lawmakers aware of the downsides of a bill and the arguments on the other side as well.
For members of Congress negotiating with members of Congress can slow the process down because the lobbyist must check with clients and lawyers for final decisions- sometimes a subcomm. chair will insist that everyone at the table has the power to make decisions. (Waxman 135)
http www washingtonpost com wp dyn content article 2005 06 21 ar2005062101632 html
  • “The Road to Riches Is Called K Street”By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

Washington Post Staff WriterWednesday, June 22, 2005; Page A01

To the great growth industries of America such as health care and home building add one more: influence peddling.

The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy

what makes an interest group successful
What Makes an Interest Group Successful?

In general three factors tend to lead to interest group success:

  • Leaders– having a prominent leader aids in the reputation of the group and enhances a group's ability to attain its goals.
  • Patrons and Funding– funding is critical. Without money, it is hard to get your message out.
  • Members– a group must have members to be successful. Organizing members allows for strength in numbers and pooling of financial support.
pluralism and its critics
Pluralism and its Critics
  • Three criticism of pluralism are
    • It gives short shrift to those who are not organized.
    • It fails to deal with the fact that some interests have more power than others.
    • It seems to leave no room for consideration of transcendent national interests.
  • Pluralist theory argues that interest group activity brings representation to all.
  • Interest groups compete and counterbalance one another.
hyperpluralist theory
Hyperpluralist Theory

Hyperpluralist argue that when interest groups become so powerful that they dominate the political decision-making structures they render any consideration of the greater public interest impossible.

criticism interest groups
Criticism Interest Groups

Interest Groups have been criticized for

  • Ignoring the wider interest of society
  • Producing confusion and deadlock in Congress
  • Generating so much emotion that they make reasoned discussion difficult
  • Having too much influence
important points to think about
Important Points to Think About
  • Interest Groups
    • Promote interest in public affairs
    • Provide useful information
    • Serve as watchdogs
    • Represent the interest of Citizens