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Interest Groups
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Interest Groups



Presentation developed for a series of lectures on interest groups for PS 101 American Government at the University of Kentucky, Spring 2007. Dr. Christopher S. Rice, Instructor.

Presentation developed for a series of lectures on interest groups for PS 101 American Government at the University of Kentucky, Spring 2007. Dr. Christopher S. Rice, Instructor.



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Interest Groups Interest Groups Presentation Transcript

  • Interest Groups Dr. Christopher S. Rice
  • Are interest groups generally good for American politics, generally bad for American politics, or does it depend on the group?
    • Interest groups are generally good
    • Interest groups are generally bad
    • It depends on the group
    • Don’t know
  • What are interest groups?
    • Interest groups - private organizations that try to shape public policy by influencing the behavior of political decision-makers.
    • Interest groups serve as important instruments to attain democracy and serve the public interest .
    • Pluralists: interest groups an additional tool, NOT necessarily a problem.
  • Should unions be allowed in all states (i.e., no right to work states)?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Maybe
    • No opinion
  • 3 Types of Interest Groups
  • Public Interest Groups (citizen groups)
    • Interests that are connected in one way or another to the general welfare of the community
    • Primarily non-economic groups motivated by:
      • ideology
      • the desire to advance a general cause
      • the commitment to some public policy
  • They attract members using solidaristic or purposive incentives
  • Public Interest Groups
    • Try to get government to do things that will benefit the general public.
    • Number of public interest groups has increased markedly since the 1960s.
  • Private Interest Groups (economic groups)
    • Groups with some tangible stake that they wish to protect or to advance by means of government action.
    • Associated with benefits for some fraction of the community.
  • Primarily based on selective benefits .
  • Private Interest (economic) groups
    • Producer groups represent enterprises that produce goods or services, such as businesses or agriculture.
    • Professional groups represent the interests of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and dentists.
    • Unions – primary role has been to protect jobs of members, work for maximum wage & benefit levels.
  • “ Gray Area” Interest Groups
    • Difficult to place as precisely public or private interest groups.
    • Governments
    • Think Tanks (research policy groups)
    • Issue Networks and Alliances
    • “ Astroturf” Groups
  • Which of the following lobbying techniques do you think is most influential?
    • Making personal contact with policy makers
    • Providing information and expertise to policy makers
    • Providing expert testimony to be used by policy makers
    • Providing legal advice or assistance to policy makers
  • What Interest Groups Do the “ inside ” and “ outside ” games
  • The Inside Game
    • aka , “old-breed lobbying”.
    • Direct contact of interest group representative, government officials.
    • Does not involve bribery. It’s the politics of insiders, the “good old boy” network, “one on one” persuasion.
    • Access, genuine understanding of “the game” critical to success.
  • The inside game is most effective when the issues:
    • are narrow and technical;
    • do not command much media or public attention;
    • do not stir up counteractivity by other interest groups.
  • Should politicians disclose all contacts by lobbying groups to the public?
    • Should disclose
    • Should not disclose
    • Somewhat
    • No opinion
  • Inside Game: Lobbying Congress
    • The skilled lobbyist cultivates personal contacts, relationships with key members, staff of committees & subcommittees.
    • Access may be gained if interest group has made significant contribution to the campaign.
    • Interest group representatives offer testimony at public committee, subcommittee hearings.
  • Inside Game: Lobbying Executive Branch
    • Career civil servants, upper-level appointees have considerable discretionary authority.
    • Key to success? Personal contact, long-term relationships.
    • Interest group representatives can provide valuable services to bureaucracy.
    • Implied understandings about postcareer service benefits common.
  • The Outside Game
    • aka , “new-breed lobbying.”
    • Efforts to mobilize public opinion, voters, and important contributors in order to bring pressure on elected officials.
  • Tools of the Outside Game
    • Mobilizing Membership
    • Organizing the District
    • Shaping Opinion
      • Publication of Research results
      • Advertising
      • Maintaining working relationships with the media
      • Political Action Committees
      • Blogging and Web 2.0 activism
  • Do you think interest groups wield too much power, not enough power, or the right amount of power in our political system?
    • Too much power
    • The right amount of power
    • Not enough power
    • Don’t know
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
  • Inequalities in the Interest Group System
    • Representational
    • Resource
    • Access
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
    • Representational Inequalities - involves the question of WHOM interest groups represent.
      • Business, trade, professional associations = 2/3
      • Representational advantage of business, professions increasing.
      • Business, professional groups have more permanency
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
    • Resource inequalities – interest groups representing business corporations and the professions represent a substantial resource advantage over others.
      • Can afford to spend far more than other groups.
      • THE major participants in PAC fundraising and spending.
      • Providers of Soft Money.
  • Do you think many public officials make or change policy decisions on the basis of money they receive from campaign contributors?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don’t know
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
    • Interest groups have SOME expectation of ROI on contributions.
    • It is NOT really a case of “Prove it!”
    • Do interest groups neutralize each other?
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
    • Access inequality – inequalities of representation and resources are accentuated by the ability of some groups to form relatively stable alliances with government institutions and decision-makers.
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
    • Capture - tendency for regulatory agencies to become allies, protectors, & advocates of the industries that they were intended to regulate.
    • Interest Group Liberalism (Lowi) - political system in which interest groups help formulate and carry out government policies.
  • Interest Group System & Democracy
    • Iron Triangles - A three-way arrangement in which an alliance is formed between a private interest group, a bureaucratic agency, and a Congressional committee or subcommittee.