Dec 30, 2015
Interest GroupsCh. 16What is an interest group? What are some examples of interest groups?
What is the difference between an interest group and a political party?
Why does the formation of groups matter?Enhances social capitalrelationships people have that help solve community problems through group actionCivic virtueTendency to form small-scale groups for public goodImproved political/econ. developmentGive un(der)represented people opportunity to have voices heard (more democratic)Offers powerful/wealthy greater access & influence on policy makers at all levels
What is an interest group?Interest grouporganized group that tries to influence public policyMajor difference between interest group and political party is that interest groups DO NOT run candidates for officeDavid B. Truman: one of first political scientists to study interest groupsPluralist theorypolitical power is distributed among diverse & competing interest groupsDisturbance theoryany time there is a disturbance in the political system, an interest group forms (groups counteract other groups)Transactions theorypublic polices are the result of narrowly defined exchanges among political forcesRejects pluralist approach: not rational to form a group; groups that do represent elites
M. Olson: Logic of Collective ActionFather of transactions theoryCollective goods=no groups, since can gain benefits of others (free riders)Population ecology theorylife of a political organization is conditional on diversity/density of interest group population in an areaPeople will create small groups if necessary to prevent free riders (Civil Rights Movement)The flaw in pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class bias.
Kinds of Organized InterestsGenerally, interest groups describe many organized groups that try to influence government policyPublic Interest Groupsseeks a collective good that will not benefit group members (Progressives)Economic Interest Groupspromotes financial interests of its members (AMA, AFL-CIO)
Governmental Unitsstate and local govts lobby for funding earmarksfunds specifically for program within state or districtPolitical Action Committeesfederally regulated fund-raising committee that represent interest groups (1974); no formal members
Multi- and single-issue groups
Development of American Interest GroupsNational groups emerge (1830-1889)Communication networks enabled nationalization of groupsFirst were single-issue groups deeply rooted in the Christian religious revivalismTemperance, Peace, Education, and SlaveryOther groups emerged after the Civil WarOne of the most effective: Central Pacific RailroadSent lobbyist to D.C. in 1861 (later in charge of oversight of RR)LobbyistsInterest group representative who seeks to influence legislation that will benefit his or her organization through political persuasion
The Progressive Era (1890-1920)Grew out of concern for impact of rapid industrialization, influx of immigration, monopolistic business practices, crime, poverty, poor working conditionsOrganized LaborAFL (American Federation of Labor)Clayton Act: allowed unions to organize free from prosecution and guaranteed their right to strikeBusiness Groups and Trade AssociationsTrade Associations: a group that represents a specific industryUnfair bribery tactics, gifts, contributionsNELA, NAM
The Rise of the Interest Group State1960s and 1970s saw a reappearance of the Progressive spiritCivil RightsWomens RightsElderlyPoorConsumersEnvironmentCommon Cause (watchdog group)Ralph Naders Public Citizen (investigatory litigation center)
Conservative Response: Religious and Ideological GroupsJerry Falwell and the Moral MajorityPat Robertson, the 700 Club and the Christian CoalitionNational Rifle Association
Business Groups, Corporations, and AssociationsRise in business advocacy groupsMore political than Chamber of CommerceExample: The Business RoundtableCreated in 1972Urges member to engage in direct lobbying to influence the course of public policyMost large corporations have themOwn governmental affairs departmentEmploy D.C.-based lobbyists to keep them apprised of legislationGave substantial soft money in the pastStill use PACs, 527s, and thus contribute a great deal of money
Organized LaborBegan to emerge as powerful player early in the 20th centuryCould turn out membersFocus not only on labor issues, but also other issues of concern to its membersMore recently labor has lost some cloutMembership downpale, male, stale