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Interest Groups

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Katelin Allenbach

on 13 December 2018

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Transcript of Interest Groups

Interest Groups
The Value of Interest Groups
interest group
is an organization that seeks to achieve goals by influencing government decision making.
Estimates indicate that about 80 percent of all Americans belong to some kind of voluntary group or association, although not every group is an interest group .
Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone found a marked decrease in the number of people who belong to interest groups and other types of clubs and organizations.
These organizations, Putnam argues, are essential sources of
social capital
, the relationships that improve our lives by giving us social connections with which to solve common problems.
Critics of Putnam have noted that people are engaged in other types of groups and clubs and enjoy various forms of group recreation.

Membership in Interest Groups
Motivations for Joining Interest Groups
Organizational Resources
Types of Interest Groups
Pluralism v Elitism: Do interest groups favor the elites?
The role of money in policy
How policy is
formed (iron triangles and issue networks)
Conflicting interest groups
The motivation behind PACs
Nonpartisanship of Interest Groups
What qualities do interest groups need to be most effective?
What strategies do interest groups use to influence policy (other than money)?
Interest groups afford a way for people to band together to influence government as a collective force.
Interest groups involve individuals more actively in the political process by encouraging them to vote and to communicate their views one-on-one to their elected officials.
Interest groups assist in the engagement of communities by providing a forum through which people can come together and form an association.
Interest groups offer an alternative means of participation to individuals who are disenchanted with the two-party system.
Interest Groups and Civic Participation
Interest groups educate the public about policy issues.
Interest groups provide average citizens with an avenue of access to activism.
Interest groups mobilize citizens and stimulate them to participate in civic and political affairs.
Interest groups perform electoral functions.
Interest groups provide information and expertise to policy makers.
Interest groups provide information and expertise to policy makers.
Interest groups are an integral part of the government’s system of checks and balances
Key Functions of Interest Groups
Interest groups do contribute to the appearance of (and sometimes the reality of) corruption in the political system.
Interest groups and their
political action committees (PACs)
make money a vital force in American politics.
These concerns have been exacerbated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in
Citizens United v FEC
Interest groups strengthen
incumbency advantage
Elites are more likely to establish and to dominate interest groups than are non-elites.
The Downside of Interest Groups
People are not all equally likely to join or form interest groups, and this reality has serious consequences for the ability of interest groups to represent everyone’s views.
Income and education
tend to be the best predictors of interest group membership.
However, enormous diversity exists in the types of people who choose to join or form interest groups.
Who Joins Interest Groups and Why?
Patterns of Membership
Based on Occupation
Doctors and lawyers are likely to be members of professional associations such as the AMA and ABA.
Workers such as teachers and tradespeople are likely to belong to labor unions.
Executives in business and industry are likely to be members of industry-specific and general business organizations that advocate on behalf of their members.
Participation and Social Class
In general, people who identify themselves as working class are less likely to have been socialized to participate in interest groups, with the important exception of
labor unions
, which historically have been most likely to organize working-class occupations.
Participation and Education
Educational attainment has a strong influence on whether a person will join an interest group.
Individuals with higher education levels are more likely to be informed about issues and more willing to invest the time and energy in joining an interest group that represents their views.
They may also be more likely to understand how important interest groups are in shaping public policy.
Solidary Incentives
Some people join interest groups because they offer
solidary incentives
—the feeling of belonging, companionship, friendship, and the satisfaction derived from socializing with others.
People also join interest groups because of
purposive incentives
, that is, because they believe in the group’s cause from an ideological or a moral standpoint.
Purposive Incentives
Economic Incentives
Many people join interest groups because of material or
economic incentives
; that is, they want to support groups that work for policies that will provide them with economic benefits.
How Interest Groups Succeed
Why are some interest groups better at getting what they want than others?
Political scientists agree on various factors that influence whether an interest group will succeed.
These factors include the interest group’s
organizational resources
, and its
organizational environment
How Membership Affects Success
A large membership enhances an interest group’s influence because policy makers are more likely to take note of the group’s position.
of a group also matters to participants and to policy makers.
Another significant aspect of an interest group’s membership is its
The demographics of a group’s membership also may increase its success.
How Financial Resources Affect Success
Money fuels the hiring of experienced and effective staff and lobbyists, as well as the undertaking of initiatives that will increase the group’s membership.
Money also funds the raising of more money.
Sometimes interest groups form a
political action committee (PAC)
to contribute money to the campaigns of favored candidates, particularly
who are likely to be reelected.
Organizational Environment
Strong, charismatic leaders can raise public awareness of the group and its activities, by enhancing its reputation, and by making the organization attractive to new members and contributors.

When an interest group is “the only game in town” on a particular issue, policy makers are more likely to rely on that group’s views.
But if groups with opposing views are also attempting to influence policy, getting policy makers to act strongly in any one group’s favor is more difficult.
Economic Interest Groups
Corporate & Business Interests
These groups typically seek policies that benefit a particular company or industry.
Umbrella organizations:
interest groups representing groups of industries or corporations
Labor Interests
About 12 percent of all U.S. workers belong to unions.
Public employees are among the most unionized workforces, with 37 percent of all governmental employees belonging to a labor union.
Agricultural Interests
Probably have the most disproportionate amount of influence given the small number of farmers and farm workers in the country relative to the general population.
Trade & Professional Interests
Nearly every professional occupation has a trade or professional group that focuses on its interests.
Public and Ideological Interest Groups
Public interest groups
typically are concerned with a broad range of issues that affect the populace at large.
Results of the efforts of a particular public interest group’s advocacy are
collective goods
The nature of collective goods creates a
free rider problem
According to
rational choice theory
it is not rational for people to participate in a collective action designed to achieve a collective good when they can secure that good without participating.
Consumer Interests
Ralph Nader has founded numerous organizations to promote the rights of consumers
Environmental Interests
Many environmental interest groups came about as a result of a broader environmental movement in the 1970s.
Religious Interests
Religious interests are among the most influential interest groups in U.S. politics.
Conservative Christian organizations influence in political process.

Foreign governments
Often will benefit from the efforts an interest group made up of U.S. citizens of the foreign nation’s heritage e.g AIPAC.
China has spent millions of dollars trying to influence trade and other U.S. policies to its advantage
International corporations
Although only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants can contribute to federal PACs, American employees of foreign companies do form and contribute to PACs.
Foreign Interest Groups
Interest groups use two kinds of strategies to advance their causes.
Direct strategies
involve actual contact between representatives of the interest group and policy makers.
Indirect strategies
use intermediaries to advocate for a cause or generally to attempt to persuade the public, including policy makers, to embrace the group’s position.
Interest groups hire professionals to
, or to communicate directly with, policy makers on the interest groups’ behalf.
Interest groups hire as lobbyists former government officials, including cabinet officials, members of Congress, and congressional staffers.
Frequently, this practice creates an
issue network
, the fluid web of connections among those concerned about a policy and those who create and administer the policy.
An interest group’s efficacy often depends on its having close relationships with the policy makers involved in decisions related to the group’s causes.

iron triangle
refers to the interaction of mutual interests among members of Congress, executive agencies, and organized interests during policy making.
Lobbying, Issue Networks, and Iron Triangles
Interest Group Strategies
Sometimes interest groups challenge a policy in the courts.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010).
ACLU and Voter ID Laws
Litigation by Interest Groups
Direct Strategies
Interest groups are one of the chief sources of information for policy.
Interest groups have the resources to investigate the impact of policies.
They have access to data, technological know-how, and a bevy of experts with extensive knowledge of the issues.
Providing Information and Expert Testimony
Indirect Strategies
Interest groups work hard—and use a variety of strategies—to make the public, government officials, their own members, and potential members aware of issues of concern and to educate people about their positions on the issues.
Sometimes interest groups and corporations engage in
climate control
, the practice of using public outreach to build favorable public opinion of the organization or company.
Other groups, especially those without a great deal of access to policy makers, may engage in
civil disobedience
to be heard.
Climate Control
Campaign contributions are considered a key element of
Interest groups also commonly use the tactics of
and ratings to attract support for the candidates whom they favor and to reduce the electoral chances of those whom they do not.
Funding campaigns establishes the interest group as a formal supporter of one or more candidates.
Campaign contributions are a door opener for an interest--
to policy makers is crucial.
Labor groups tend to support Democrats, whereas many business and corporate PACs favor Republicans.
Traditional PACs tend to contribute more heavily to Democrats than to Republicans.
PACs, particularly those formed by economic interest groups, overwhelmingly favor incumbents.
Interest Groups, Politics, and Money:
The Influence of Political Action Committees

Fed #10
§ 30121. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals
(a) Prohibition. It shall be unlawful for—
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.
(b) As used in this section, the term “foreign national”
(1) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22,22 except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or
(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a) (20) of title 8.23
Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)
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