Chapter 11: Interest Groups

Report
INTEREST
GROUPS
… an organization or people
with shared policy goals
entering the policy process
at several points to try to
achieve those goals
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED
PERSONS
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION
PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT
OF ANIMALS
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE
ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR
WOMEN
1. While political parties fight their battles in the
electoral process, interest groups do not seek
to get their members elected
– Interest groups may support candidates for office,
but American interest groups do not run their own
slate of candidates
2. Interest groups are often policy specialists,
whereas political parties are policy generalists
3. Unlike political parties, interest groups do not
face the constraint imposed by trying to
appeal to everyone
LOBBYING
• “communication, by someone other than a
citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a
governmental decisionmaker with the hope of
influencing behavior”
• a. they are an important source of
information providing specialized expertise in
a single policy area
• b. they can help a member with political
strategy for getting legislation through (they
act as consultants)
• c. they can help formulate campaign strategy
and get the group’s members behind a
politician’s re-election campaign
• d. they are a source of ideas and innovations
Theories of Interest Group Politics
“Do interest groups and lobbying create
problems for government?”
Three theories to answer this question:
• Pluralism
• Elitism
• Hyperpluralism
1. Pluralist Theory
• a theory of government and politics
emphasizing that politics is mainly a
competition among groups, each one pressing
for its own preferred policies
– a. argues that interest group activity brings
representation to all
– b. groups compete and counterbalance one
another in the political marketplace
Therefore: lobbying is open to all and is positive.
2. Elite Theory
• a theory of government and politics
contending that societies are divided along
class lines and that an upper-class elite will
rule, regardless of the formal niceties of
governmental organization
• A few groups (primarily the wealthy) have
most of the power
• Most interest groups are insignificant
Therefore: lobbying is a problem because it
benefits the few at the expense of the many.
3. Hyperpluralist Theory
• a theory of government and politics
contending that groups are so strong that
government is weakened
– a. hyperpluralism is an extreme, exaggerated, or
perverted form of pluralism
– b. too many groups are getting too much of what
they want, resulting in government policy that is
often contradictory and lacking in direction
Therefore: lobbying results in contradictory and
confusing public policies.
Iron Triangles
• A network of subgovernments, a mutually
dependent, mutually advantageous relationship
between interest groups interested in a particular
policy, government agencies that administer that
policy, and the congressional committees that
handle it.
• Hyperpluralists believe these relationships are
‘too cozy’ and lead to hard choices rarely being
made … leading to contradiction and/or policy
gridlock.
The “Iron Triangle”
What makes interest groups
successful?
Size
Intensity
Financial resources
Smaller groups are
more likely to achieve
their goals than large
groups.
But, Why?
Potential Groups
• All people who might be
members due to a shared
interest
Actual Group
• Those in the potential
group who choose to join
• The greater the percentage of the
potential group in the actual
group = greater effectiveness of
the group
• Therefore, smaller groups usually
have an advantage in this regard.
Collective Good
• Something of value that cannot be denied or
withheld from either potential or actual group
members
• Such as clean air
• In other words: Potential members benefit
from positives that the actual group works to
secure.
Therefore, the problem presents
itself …
“Why should I, a potential member,
become an actual member … if I’ll
benefit anyways?”
The Free Rider Problem
• The problem of not joining the actual group
because benefits will be realized without
joining.
“Why should I work for a group, pay dues, give
time and energy, etc. when I get the
advantages without doing anything?”
How to Overcome this Problem …
• Providing attractive benefits only for actual
members.
• These are called Selective Benefits.
– Goods that a group can restrict to those who are
in the actual group
Also …
• “Issue Intensity”
• Single-Issue Group: a narrow interest, dislikes
compromise, and single-mindedly pursues its
goal
Financial Resources
• Major criticism of the interest group system is
that it is biased toward the wealthy
Top Groups, according to ‘power’:
1. NRA
2. AARP
3. National Federation of Independent Business
4. American Israel Public Affairs Committee
5. AFL-CIO
How Interest Groups Shape Policy
•
•
•
•
Lobbying
Litigation
Going Public
Electioneering
– PACs
Types of Interest Groups
• Economic Interests
– Labor, Business
• Environmental Interests
– WWF, Nature Conservancy
• Equality Interests
– NOW, NAACP
• Consumer/Public Interest Lobbies

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