PS 101 Interest Groups


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Slide show prepared for a series of lectures on Interest Groups for PS 101 American Government at the University of Kentucky, Fall 2007. Dr. Christopher S. Rice, Lecturer.

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PS 101 Interest Groups

  1. 1. Interest Groups Dr. Christopher S. Rice
  2. 2. What are interest groups? <ul><li>Interest groups - private organizations that try to shape public policy by influencing the behavior of political decision-makers. </li></ul><ul><li>Interest groups serve as important instruments to attain democracy and serve the public interest . </li></ul><ul><li>Pluralists: interest groups an additional tool, NOT necessarily a problem. </li></ul>
  3. 3. 3 Types of Interest Groups
  4. 4. Public Interest Groups (citizen groups) <ul><li>Interests that are connected in one way or another to the general welfare of the community </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily non-economic groups motivated by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ideology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the desire to advance a general cause </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the commitment to some public policy </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. They attract members using solidaristic or purposive incentives
  6. 6. Public Interest Groups <ul><li>Try to get government to do things that will benefit the general public. </li></ul><ul><li>Number of public interest groups has increased markedly since the 1960s. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Private Interest Groups (economic groups) <ul><li>Groups with some tangible stake that they wish to protect or to advance by means of government action. </li></ul><ul><li>Associated with benefits for some fraction of the community. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Primarily based on selective benefits .
  9. 9. Private Interest (economic) groups <ul><li>Producer groups represent enterprises that produce goods or services, such as businesses or agriculture. </li></ul><ul><li>Professional groups represent the interests of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and dentists. </li></ul><ul><li>Unions – primary role has been to protect jobs of members, work for maximum wage & benefit levels. </li></ul>
  10. 10. “ Gray Area” Interest Groups <ul><li>Difficult to place as precisely public or private interest groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Governments </li></ul><ul><li>Think Tanks (research policy groups) </li></ul><ul><li>Issue Networks and Alliances </li></ul><ul><li>“ Astroturf” Groups </li></ul>
  11. 11. What Interest Groups Do the “ inside ” and “ outside ” games
  12. 12. The Inside Game <ul><li>aka , “old-breed lobbying”. </li></ul><ul><li>Direct contact of interest group representative, government officials. </li></ul><ul><li>Does not involve bribery. It’s the politics of insiders, the “good old boy” network, “one on one” persuasion. </li></ul><ul><li>Access, genuine understanding of “the game” critical to success. </li></ul>
  13. 13. The inside game is most effective when the issues: <ul><li>are narrow and technical; </li></ul><ul><li>do not command much media or public attention; </li></ul><ul><li>do not stir up counteractivity by other interest groups. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Inside Game: Lobbying Congress <ul><li>The skilled lobbyist cultivates personal contacts, relationships with key members, staff of committees & subcommittees. </li></ul><ul><li>Access may be gained if interest group has made significant contribution to the campaign. </li></ul><ul><li>Interest group representatives offer testimony at public committee, subcommittee hearings. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Inside Game: Lobbying Executive Branch <ul><li>Career civil servants, upper-level appointees have considerable discretionary authority. </li></ul><ul><li>Key to success? Personal contact, long-term relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Interest group representatives can provide valuable services to bureaucracy. </li></ul><ul><li>Implied understandings about postcareer service benefits common. </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Outside Game <ul><li>aka , “new-breed lobbying.” </li></ul><ul><li>Efforts to mobilize public opinion, voters, and important contributors in order to bring pressure on elected officials. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Tools of the Outside Game <ul><li>Mobilizing Membership </li></ul><ul><li>Organizing the District </li></ul><ul><li>Shaping Opinion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publication of Research results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintaining working relationships with the media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Political Action Committees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogging and Web 2.0 activism </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Interest Group System & Democracy
  19. 19. Inequalities in the Interest Group System <ul><li>Representational </li></ul><ul><li>Resource </li></ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul>
  20. 20. Interest Group System & Democracy <ul><li>Representational Inequalities - involves the question of WHOM interest groups represent. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Business, trade, professional associations = 2/3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Representational advantage of business, professions increasing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business, professional groups have more permanency </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Interest Group System & Democracy <ul><li>Resource inequalities – interest groups representing business corporations and the professions represent a substantial resource advantage over others. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can afford to spend far more than other groups. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>THE major participants in PAC fundraising and spending. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providers of Soft Money. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Interest Group System & Democracy <ul><li>Interest groups have SOME expectation of ROI on contributions. </li></ul><ul><li>It is NOT really a case of “Prove it!” </li></ul><ul><li>Do interest groups neutralize each other? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Interest Group System & Democracy <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Interest Group System & Democracy <ul><li>Capture - tendency for regulatory agencies to become allies, protectors, & advocates of the industries that they were intended to regulate. </li></ul><ul><li>Interest Group Liberalism (Lowi) - political system in which interest groups help formulate and carry out government policies. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Interest Group System & Democracy <ul><li>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. </li></ul>