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Interest Groups

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Nicholas Antonucci

on 2 November 2016

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Transcript of Interest Groups

Key Functions of Interest Groups
The Value of
Interest Groups
Pluralist Theory
vs
Elite Theory
1st - Relationships that improve our individual lives by giving us social connections to solve common problems are forms of
social capital
.

Vocab HW - Due 10/7
Most Americans have a generally negative impression of interest groups.
Interest Groups
Motivations for Joining Interest Groups
Interest Groups
An 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.
In
Bowling Alone
Robert Putnam 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.

Pluralist Theory
emphasizes how important it is for a democracy to have large numbers of diverse interest groups representing a wide variety of views.

All of the following are tenets of
Pluralist Theory:
It is important for democracy to have a large, diverse set of interest groups.
Policy-making is a competition among diverse interest groups.
Interest groups provide a structure for political participation.
Interest groups' varying assets tend to counterbalance one another.
In regards to
pluralist theory
and
elite theory
, most political scientists think that both are
partially correct
.
According to
Elite Theory
, a ruling class composed of wealthy, educated individuals wields most of the power in government and also within the top universities, corporations, the military, and media outlets.
Interest Groups:
educate the public about policy issues.
provide average citizens with an avenue of access to activism.
mobilize citizens and stimulate them to participate in civic and political affairs.
perform electoral functions.
provide information and expertise to policy makers.
can protect the common good.
are an integral part of the government’s system of checks and balances.
Separate entities formed by interest groups whose specific goal is to raise and spend money to influence election outcomes are known as
Political Action Committees (PACs).

Interest Groups and their Political Action Committees (PACs) tend to
strengthen the advantages of incumbency.
The wealthy, whites, the upper-middle class and the educated are likely to be
overrepresented by interest groups
.
Some people join interest groups because they offer
Solidary Incentives
—the feeling of belonging, companionship, friendship, and the satisfaction derived from socializing with others.

This type of incentive for joining interest groups is closely linked to Robert Putnam's idea of
Social Capital
.
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.
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.
Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are motivated primarily by
purposive incentives
.
Membership size, cohesion, intensity and demographics are all factors that influences and decide an interest group's
political effectiveness
.
Leadership and opposition are key factors in an interest groups' organizational environment.
Membership size, cohesion, intensity and demographics are all factors that influences and decide an interest group's
political effectiveness.
Today, religious interests are among the most influential interest groups in U.S. politics, but for a long time organized religious interests were uninvolved in politics. Why? Because they were afraid of losing their tax-exempt status.
Promotion of pro-family values best describes the emphasis of the Christian Coalition's platform.
The most likely reason a foreign interest is likely to lobby the U.S. government is to assist them with
US trade policies.
Some examples of public interest groups:
National Taxpayers Union.
The Sierra Club.
Common Cause.
Public Citizen.
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 (2010)
.
Political Action Committees give a large majority of their contributions to incumbents of both parties.
Only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants can
legally contribute
to federal political action committees.
In elections, PAC funding
shapes electoral outcomes by tending to favor incumbents
.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents a collective group of large and small businesses; it is a prime example of an
umbrella organization
.
Union membership
has declined dramatically in the US since the 1960s.
The problem of someone deriving a benefit from the actions of others is known as the
Free Rider Problem
.
The theory that it does not make economic sense for someone to participate in collective action when they can receive a benefit without participating is known as
Rational Choice Theory
.
HOMEWORK:
President Ulysses S. Grant
coined the term lobbyist
after walking through the Willard Hotel and commenting on the presence of people who represented various interests and were waiting to speak to members of Congress.
Face-to-face meetings, "buttonholing" in the Capitol, telephone calls, and receptions and special events are all employed by special interest representatives to gain access to policymakers.
When interest groups employ former members of government as lobbyists, they are creating an
issue network
.
The interaction of mutual interests involving interest groups, government officials, and members of Congress is known as the
Iron Triangle
.
The Supreme Court decision of
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
drastically altered the political landscape by allowing corporate and union election financing.
All of the following are examples of indirect strategies used by interest groups to advance their cause:
use of citizen grassroots lobbyists
electioneering
protests and civil disobedience
endorsements and ratings
The practice of using public outreach to build favorable public opinion of an organization or company is known as
climate control
.
When interest groups engage in indirect strategies to support candidates supportive of their agendas, it is known as
electioneering
.
Voters, the Media, and the Candidates themselves uses interest group ratings to measure a candidate popularity or legislative performance.
Alexis de Tocqueville called Americans
"a nation of joiners"
to describe Americans in his 1835 work Democracy in America.
Climate control
Collective goods
Economic incentive
Electioneering
Elite theory
Free rider problem
Interest group
Iron triangle
Issue network
Lobby
Pluralist theory
Political action committee (PAC)
Public employee unions
Purposive incentive
Rational choice theory
Social capital
Solidary incentive
Umbrella organizations
Full transcript