Shea chapter 12


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  • These protestors are showing their support for Planned Parenthood in its conflict with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which had stopped contributing to Planned Parenthood because of conservative objections to the organization. Following the conflict, Planned Parenthood saw their support rise dramatically, garnering contributions from across the country.
  • Americans are committed to collective action—so why are we so suspicious of interest groups? Author Joanne Connor Green considers this paradox, and illustrates how interest groups are able to accomplish what individuals wouldn’t be able to do alone.
    TO THE INSTRUCTOR: To access the videos in this chapter, please enter your Pearson or MyPoliSciLab username and password after clicking on the link on the slide.
  • What are interest groups and what role do they play in our democracy? Listen to real people tackle these and other questions. Learn what types of interest groups exist in our country, what tactics they use to achieve their goals, and why interest groups matter.
  • From the earliest days of our republic, individuals treasured the notion of collective action. Early success with collective action and self-government set the stage for today’s commitment. Organized interests provide a safety valve, especially in times of great social, economic, political, and cultural upheaval and change. In their absence, more violent forms of expression might be employed.
  • Our Bill of Rights guarantees us specific and cherished rights, such as the freedom to say what we believe and the right to gather with others in a group to lend volume to what we say.
    This element of American political culture impressed a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville. After observing American life, he noted how necessary group activities are to the development and maintenance of democracy. Compared to Europeans of the time, Americans had a greater tendency to band together to solve problems. De Tocqueville wrote his observations in a book titled Democracy in America.
  • This drawing captures Alexis de Tocqueville. Why do you think this 25-year-old was so able to characterize the nature of our democracy? Do you think you have to be an outsider to best understand a country?
  • What was political involvement like in the United States during the nineteenth century? In this video, Tufts University political scientist Peter Levine examines the historical trends of political participation and the role of parties in organizing this participation.
  • The right to associate and be active in public affairs is a fundamental right, and such activism is at the heart of the “do-something” American political culture. Even today, groups continue to emerge to challenge the status quo.
  • A belief in self-government and citizen action underlies our political system. At the end of the seventeenth century English philosopher John Locke argued that people have certain God-given, or natural rights that are inalienable, meaning that they can’t be taken away or surrendered to a government. This social contract theory states that people set up governments for the specific purpose of protecting natural rights.
    Thomas Jefferson relied on Locke’s ideas when drafting the Declaration of Independence. And from this sprang the notion of egalitarianism, the belief that all people are equal.
  • Can you answer this review question based on the discussion so far?
  • John Locke wrote of natural rights and the social contract theory.
  • Constitutional protections are important in allowing citizens to petition their government and pursue collective action. The constitutional guarantees of free speech, religion, press, and assembly permit citizens to petition the government about their concerns. These freedoms allow mass movements to develop, often changing both country and culture. Without these protections, we’d have great difficulties working with like-minded individuals and influencing our society.
  • The U.S. Constitution provides significant guarantees that allow for citizen participation, activism, and mass mobilization. The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech is perhaps the most important.
    Not all countries enjoy these rights and guarantees. In totalitarian systems, lobbying, activism, protest, and other forms of political engagement are severely limited. For example, protests at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, were cut dramatically short in 1989 when the Chinese government massacred thousands of students who had gathered to protest political oppression.
  • This 1989 photograph shows students protesting in Beijing, China’s, Tiananmen Square. How often do you think about the extent of the freedoms we have in the United States? What responsibilities, if any, come with these freedoms?
  • Organized interests prompt government leaders to address pressing problems. Without such organization, important issues may be ignored until they reach a crisis. For example, fed up by years of political and economic injustice, some African Americans organized protests that led to violent race riots. By ignoring the racism that was evident in the United States, and not giving those affected by racism a structured outlet to demand change, Americans created a situation that at last exploded violently.
    Organizing into groups to push for change increases accountability in government because it pressures officials to act. It can also help ensure healthy democratic communities.
  • We’ve discussed organized interests and the results they can get. Can you answer this review question about group mobilization?
  • All of these options can occur when people mobilize into groups to work for change.
  • Interest groups provide tools for participation, educate the public and governmental officials, and influence policymaking and governmental action. Interest groups consist of:
    • economic groups (such as the Chamber of Commerce)
    • public interest groups (such as the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP)
    • think tanks (such as the conservative Heritage Foundation and the liberal Brookings Institution)
    • governmental units (such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors)
  • In our society, people join an interest group to find a place to belong, to articulate their point of view, and to promote their common goals. Some are formal, like the American Medical Association, and some are more informal, such as neighborhood groups formed to fight zoning changes.
    There are three primary characteristics of interest groups.
    • They are voluntary associations of joiners.
    • Members share beliefs.
    • They focus on influencing government.
    Interest groups are either single-issue and focus on one issue such as the environment, peace or abortion. Or, they are multi-issue and pursue a broader range of issues grouped around a central theme. An example of such an interest group is NOW, the National Organization for Women. NOW focuses on a number of issues that advance the cause of women.
  • Do interest groups have an impact on policy? Boston College political scientist Kay Scholzman explains why this is not an easy question to answer. She also discusses how scholars determine which groups are represented and which groups aren’t.
  • The functions of interest groups in the United States fall into five broad categories. Interest groups represent constituents before the government, which allows individual voices to be joined as one. Interest groups provide a means to participate in the political process by volunteering and contributing money. They also educate the public by sponsoring research, for example, or testifying before congressional committees.
    Interest groups also build agendas. In other words, they may bring a little known issue to the forefront. Finally, interest groups may serve as government watchdogs, monitoring government programs and assessing effectiveness.
  • Let’s take a look at these five functions. Many are skeptical about the role interest groups play in the United States, largely because people fail to completely understand the variety of positive functions these groups fulfill.
    What would our society be like without interest groups monitoring governmental programs, representing like-minded individuals, promoting political participation, educating the public about complex and controversial issues, and helping raise awareness of issues that would otherwise be ignored?
  • Interest groups span the political spectrum. For purposes of discussion, they can be divided into four categories. Economic groups include trade organizations, labor unions, and professional associations.
    Public interest groups, which form in the pursuit of a collective good, are on the rise. One of the earliest was Common Cause, which was created in 1970 to push for government reform. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is another well-known public interest group.
    The third category is think tanks, which are nonprofit institutions that conduct research. Examples are the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
    Finally, there are governmental units, in which local and state government officials join to petition federal authorities for help.
  • Table 12.1 shows the different types of interest groups.
  • The National Rifle Association is a powerful lobby group. Do you think the NRA is too powerful, thwarting majority views on gun control?
  • The number of interest groups in the United States, and the membership numbers of those groups, exploded in the second half of the twentieth century. The number of groups grew from 5,843 in 1959 to more than 22,200 today. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is that Americans have many more opportunities to influence their government at the local, state, and federal levels.
    Also, as our diverse society has continued to grow, we have seen differences develop into deeper social divisions, or cleavages. Forming an interest group is a way to ensure important issues are heard.
    Finally, disturbance theory suggests that interest groups form when certain issues or the status quo seem threatened.
  • A flash mob plays ping pong against the Bank of America headquarters to protest the financial system. Do you think that such actions will bring about social change?
  • Can you answer this review question about interest groups?
  • Trade associations and labor unions fall into the category of economic interest groups.
  • Is pizza a vegetable? This video illustrates the difference between elitist and populist theories of interest groups by examining real people’s reactions to the recent debate over whether school cafeterias should count pizza sauce as a full serving of vegetables.
  • The many costs associated with forming and maintaining organized groups include money, time, and overcoming the free-rider and political efficacy problems. To overcome these barriers, interest groups use a variety of tactics, from offering benefits to providing inducements. Leadership is also often an important factor in group formation, maintenance, and success.
  • Economists have described three key barriers that face people who are interested in forming interest groups and other problem-resolving organizations. The first is the tendency of people to allow others to do the bulk of the work for them. This is called the free-rider problem, and it’s particularly prevalent with groups that provide public goods or collective goods, in other words things of value that cannot be given to one group but instead benefit society as a whole.
    A second barrier to interest group formation is cost. To raise the money necessary to form an influential group takes a lot of time, commitment, and money. Finally, there’s the absence of a sense of efficacy. People believe that their own actions are too small to count.
  • People who want to organize an interest group must understand the barriers in order to overcome them. They need to make membership attractive so that the benefits outweigh the perceived costs.
    Organizers may give members selective benefits, which only members would receive even if the gains made by the groups were enjoyed by a larger group of people. These could be material benefits such as magazines, discounts, and T-shirts.
    Another type of benefit is solidary, which is primarily social. Solidary benefits could include activities and a general sense of belonging. Purposive benefits give members an intangible sense of having been part of something worthwhile, such as a blood drive. Finally, some interest groups—such as labor unions—may overcome organizational barriers by requiring members to join.
  • Perhaps one of the most effective ways to convince people to join an organization is to have a charismatic leader. When people believe in the leaders of an organization, they’re more supportive of its goals and more likely to contribute to its cause.
    For farm workers enduring poor working conditions and poor pay, César Chávez was such a leader. Chávez grew up as a poor farm worker and later joined the Navy. When he returned to migratory farm work in Arizona and California following his military service, Chávez was struck by the poor conditions that he saw. He founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged with other organizations to form the United Farm Workers of America. Under Chávez’s leadership, the group has achieved a great deal for migrant farm workers.
  • César Chávez is third from the left. Through marches, protests, and organized boycotts, Chávez was able to improve the working conditions and compensation for thousands of hardworking laborers.
    What characteristics do you think are the most important in distinguishing a truly great leader?
  • Can you answer this review question about benefits people can get from belonging to interest groups?
  • Purposive benefits allow members the sense of satisfaction that comes form being a part of something worthwhile.
  • To present their positions, interest groups lobby directly by contacting officials and their staffs, testifying at congressional hearings, and building long-term relationships with policymakers.
    Outside lobbying involves trying to influence the government by mobilizing public support. Grassroots mobilization is one highly effective tactic of outside lobbying. Groups rely on traditional tactics such as direct contact and mail, but are increasingly using newer techniques such as blogs and social networking sites to reach the general public.
  • Inside lobbying involves personal contact with policymakers, both in the legislative and executive branches. This direct interaction is called gaining access, and it isn’t always easy. An enormous amount of money is spent by interest groups to lobby the federal government. To combat conflicts of interest, lobbyists are required under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to register with the federal government, and they are prohibited from giving members of Congress lavish gifts.
    Another form of inside lobbying involves testifying before a congressional committee hearing. These hearings occur when Congress is considering a bill, when committees are investigating a problem, or when a presidential appointee is being considered for confirmation. Hearings allow interest groups to present their views in public.
  • This table breaks down what some companies spent in 2011 on inside lobbying.
  • Lobbying is viewed negatively by the public, sometimes with good reason, as seen in the actions of Jack Abramoff, which led to his conviction on charges of corruption. Do you think corruption is widespread?
  • Interest groups can adopt many strategies in pursuit of their goals. They can launch grassroots campaigns, research and disseminate information, or lobby the government. In this simulation, you will learn about the role of lobbyists in the legislative process by attempting to get a bill passed into law.
  • Outside lobbying, also called grassroots lobbying, happens when interest groups take their case directly to the public, hoping the public, in turn, will act a certain way or help turn up the heat on government officials. Interest groups are increasingly relying on grassroots mobilization as a way to pressure lawmakers; in fact, some large companies even have full-time employees who serve as grassroots coordinators to stir up public interest.
    Lobbying tactics by grassroots groups include direct contact with those they want to sway to action. They may mail letters or, if the group has significant finances, use television or Internet advertorials, which are like paid commercials with an editorial bent. Newer tools of so-called indirect lobbying include trying to manipulate what gets covered and how it gets covered in the news media. Interest groups are also turning to blogs and social media networking sites to get the message out.
  • This figure breaks down how Americans feel about interest groups. Do you think the public has legitimate concerns?
  • The Million Mom March was a grassroots movement started by Donna Dees-Thomases and other mothers upset over gun violence. Why do you think organizations (such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD), and other movements led by mothers gain more media attention?
  • Finally, interest groups play a key role in campaigns, both by raising money for candidates and by endorsing candidates in political races.
  • Interest groups also take part in the electoral process by contributing money to candidates. This figure breaks down, by amount, the money spent by PACs in the 2010 presidential cycle. A record amount of independent expenditures was spent to influence the midterm election.
  • Can you answer this review question about the types of actions of interest groups?
  • Indirect lobbying involves trying to manipulate the media and using social networking sites. However, indirect lobbying is a form of outside lobbying, so option D is the correct answer.
  • How do interest groups decide how to spend their money? Are interest groups with lots of money to spend a threat to democracy? Let’s complete this activity to learn more.
  • Debate exists over the actual influence of interest groups in the United States; however, the consensus among the public is that interest groups are powerful—perhaps too powerful—relative to the influence of voters and other less organized citizens. The uneven growth pattern, with some groups increasing at much faster rates than others, has led some people to worry about potential bias in the articulation of the needs of some over the desires of individuals and groups with less representation.
    Despite the negative perceptions associated with interest groups, it’s important to remember that they allow like-minded citizens to join together to participate in politics and make their voices heard.
  • Political scientists agree that it’s difficult to overemphasize the importance of money in mobilizing groups to push for change and otherwise influence government. Interest groups need money to recruit members, hire staff, pay the rent (or mortgage), cover operating costs, and then raise even more money. Advertising and mail campaigns, for example, are expensive, and groups need to get the word out.
    It’s not surprising, then, that groups with large resources have a distinct advantage and are more successful in their goals than smaller, less well-heeled groups. Much of that money, in turn, is often spent gaining more public support.
  • Everyone may have the chance to participate in interest groups, but that doesn’t mean that everyone does. In fact, political scientists have noticed a widening gulf between those who are active and those who aren’t. Activists tend to be more politically sophisticated and knowledgeable, and more involved in their communities than people who aren’t involved in interest groups, which raises the question of whether all voices are being heard equally. Educational attainment, family income, and social class are the largest predictors of interest group participation.
  • No doubt there’s strength in numbers, and forming groups to solve pressing social or political problems has long been part of the American political fabric. But the near meteoric rise in the number and influence of interest groups brings up some questions:
    • Do such groups decrease or increase the influence of individuals?
    • Do they represent ordinary people who would otherwise be powerless?
    • Or do they drown out the voices of ordinary people in favor of special interests?
    It probably doesn’t help us answer this question to note that, along with the rise in interest group activity has come an increase in the distrust of government and voter cynicism. Ideally, one considers the pros and cons of interest groups before coming to a conclusion.
  • Let’s review our discussion of interest groups by considering this question.
  • All of these have accompanied the increase in interest group activities and membership.
  • If money is free speech—as the Supreme Court ruled in the controversial Citizens United decision—then how do common people get heard? Author Joanne Connor Green discusses the implications of the Supreme Court decision, and she considers what effect it’s had on those without billions to spend.
  • Shea chapter 12

    1. 1. 12 Interest Groups and Civic and Political Engagement
    2. 2. Video: The Big Picture 12 IA_1/polisci/presidency/Shea_Ch12_Interest_Groups_and _Civic_and_Political_Engagement_Seg1_v2.html
    3. 3. Video: The Basics 12 IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg2_InterestGroups_v2.html
    4. 4. Activism and Protest in the United States  Belief in Collective Action  Belief in Self-Government 12.1
    5. 5. Belief in Collective Action  Alexis de Tocqueville  Traveled and observed American culture  Wrote Democracy in America 12.1
    6. 6. Alexis de Tocqueville 12.1
    7. 7. Video: In Context IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg3_PoliticalParticipation_v2.htm l 12.1
    8. 8. Belief in Collective Action  Group Action  Right to associate and be active in public affairs  Activism at the root of our “do something” political culture  Groups emerge to challenge the status quo 12.1
    9. 9. Belief in Self-Government  John Locke  Natural rights  Social contract  Declaration of Independence  Egalitarianism 12.1
    10. 10. 12.1 This philosopher advanced the idea of natural, or inalienable, rights: 12.1 a. Thomas Jefferson b. John Locke c. Alexis de Tocqueville d. None of the above
    11. 11. 12.1 This philosopher advanced the idea of natural, or inalienable, rights: 12.1 a. Thomas Jefferson b. John Locke c. Alexis de Tocqueville d. None of the above
    12. 12. Influencing Government Through Mobilization and Participation  Constitutional Guarantees  Organized Interests 12.2
    13. 13. Constitutional Guarantees  Bill of Rights  First Amendment  Totalitarian regimes  Tiananmen Square 12.2
    14. 14. 12.2 Tiananmen Square protest
    15. 15. Organized Interests  Race riots  Frustrated African Americans protesting economic and political inequalities  Accountability  Pressure from groups forces government officials to pay attention to important issues  Helps ensure healthy democratic communities 12.2
    16. 16. 12.2 Which is an important effect of group mobilization? 12.2 a. Greater accountability for government leaders b. A greater likelihood of healthy, democratic communities c. A structured outlet to declare and vent frustrations d. All of the above
    17. 17. 12.2 Which is an important effect of group mobilization? 12.2 a. Greater accountability for government leaders b. A greater likelihood of healthy, democratic communities c. A structured outlet to declare and vent frustrations d. All of the above
    18. 18. Functions and Types of Interest Groups  Characteristics of Interest Groups  Functions of Interest Groups  Types of Interest Groups  The Interest Group Explosion 12.3
    19. 19. Characteristics of Interest Groups  Single-issue interest groups  Focus primarily or exclusively on one issue, such as the environment, peace, or abortion  Multi-issue interest groups  Pursue a broader range of issues grouped around a central theme 12.3
    20. 20. Video: Thinking Like a Political Scientist 12.3 IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg4_InterestGroups_v2.html
    21. 21. Functions of Interest Groups  Represent constituents  Join individual voices  Provide a means of political participation  Volunteering, contributing money  Educate the public  Sponsoring research, testifying  Build agendas  Serve as government watchdogs 12.3
    22. 22. FIGURE 12.1: Five functions of interest groups 12.3
    23. 23. Types of Interest Groups  Economic groups  Trade associations, professional associations  Public interest groups  Common Cause, NAACP  Think tanks  Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute  Governmental units  National Governors Association 12.3
    24. 24. TABLE 12.1: Types of interest groups 12.3
    25. 25. NRA 12.3
    26. 26. The Interest Group Explosion  Numbers increased  From 5,843 in 1959 to 22,200 currently  Americans have more opportunities to influence government  Cleavages  Deep social divisions  Disturbance theory  Groups form when they perceive their interests are threatened 12.3
    27. 27. Flash mob 12.3
    28. 28. 12.3 Which interest groups include trade associations and labor unions? 12.3 a. Economic groups b. Public interest groups c. Think tanks d. Governmental units
    29. 29. 12.3 Which interest groups include trade associations and labor unions? 12.3 a. Economic groups b. Public interest groups c. Think tanks d. Governmental units
    30. 30. Video: In the Real World 12.3 IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg5_InterestGroups_v2.html
    31. 31. Interest Group Mobilization  Organizational Barriers  Overcoming Organizational Barriers  The Role of Interest Group Leaders 12.4
    32. 32. Organizational Barriers  Tendency to allow others to do the work  Free-rider problem  Public goods or collective goods  Cost  Absence of sense of political efficacy 12.4
    33. 33. Overcoming Organizational Barriers  Selective benefits  Material benefits  Solidary benefits  Purposive benefits  Required membership 12.4
    34. 34. The Role of Interest Group Leaders  César Chávez and the UFW  Grew up as a poor farm worker  Founded the National Farm Workers Association  Later merged with other organizations to form the United Farm Workers of America 12.4
    35. 35. César Chávez 12.4
    36. 36. 12.4 Interest groups may use these benefits, which allow people to feel like they are part of a worthwhile cause, in order to attract members: 12.4 a. Selective benefits b. Material benefits c. Solidary benefits d. Purposive benefits
    37. 37. 12.4 Interest groups may use these benefits, which allow people to feel like they are part of a worthwhile cause, in order to attract members: 12.4 a. Selective benefits b. Material benefits c. Solidary benefits d. Purposive benefits
    38. 38. Inside and Outside Lobbying  Inside Lobbying  Outside Lobbying 12.5
    39. 39. Inside Lobbying  Gaining access  Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995  Testifying at congressional committee hearings 12.5
    40. 40. TABLE 12.2: Spending on inside lobbying 12.5
    41. 41. 12.5
    42. 42. Explore the Simulation: You Are a Lobbyist 12.5 _1/2013_mpsl_sim/simulation.html?simulaURL=16
    43. 43. Outside Lobbying  Grassroots mobilization  Grassroots lobbying tactics  Direct mail  Advertorials  Newer tools of indirect lobbying  Media manipulation  Social networking 12.5
    44. 44. FIGURE 12.2: Americans’ opinions about interest groups 12.5
    45. 45. Million Mom March 12.5
    46. 46. Outside Lobbying  Campaign activities  Fundraising and candidate endorsements 12.5
    47. 47. FIGURE 12.3: Money spent by PACs in the 2010 midterm cycle 12.5
    48. 48. 12.5 Attempting to manipulate the media and using social networking to influence the public are examples of: 12.5 a. Outside lobbying b. Inside lobbying c. Indirect lobbying d. A and C e. B and C
    49. 49. 12.5 Attempting to manipulate the media and using social networking to influence the public are examples of: 12.5 a. Outside lobbying b. Inside lobbying c. Indirect lobbying d. A and C e. B and C
    50. 50. Explore Political Engagement: Can Interest Groups Buy Public Policy? 12.5 ex/pex8.html
    51. 51. The Influence of Interest Groups  Interest Group Money  Bias in Representation: Who Participates?  Final Verdict? 12.6
    52. 52. Interest Group Money  Needed to recruit members, hire staff, pay overhead, and raise more funds  Groups with large resources have advantage 12.6
    53. 53. Bias in Representation: Who Participates?  Activists tend to be more politically sophisticated, knowledgeable, and more involved in their communities  Educational attainment, family income, and social class largest predictors of interest group participation 12.6
    54. 54. Final Verdict  Do interest groups decrease or increase the influence of individuals?  Rise in interest group activities correlates with increase in distrust in government 12.6
    55. 55. 12.6 What has accompanied the explosion in interest group formation and activity in recent years? 12.6 a. Distrust in government and voter cynicism b. Increase in money spent on lobbying c. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 d. All of the above
    56. 56. 12.6 What has accompanied the explosion in interest group formation and activity in recent years? 12.6 a. Distrust in government and voter cynicism b. Increase in money spent on lobbying c. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 d. All of the above
    57. 57. Video: So What? 12 IA_1/polisci/presidency/Shea_Ch12_Interest_Groups_and _Civic_and_Political_Engagement_Seg6_v2.html