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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.

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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  • 1. Interest Groups Dr. Christopher S. Rice
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. 3 Types of Interest Groups
  • 4. 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
  • 5. They attract members using solidaristic or purposive incentives
  • 6. 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.
  • 7. 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.
  • 8. Primarily based on selective benefits .
  • 9. 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.
  • 10. “ 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
  • 11. What Interest Groups Do the “ inside ” and “ outside ” games
  • 12. 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.
  • 13. 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.
  • 14. 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.
  • 15. 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.
  • 16. The Outside Game
    • aka , “new-breed lobbying.”
    • Efforts to mobilize public opinion, voters, and important contributors in order to bring pressure on elected officials.
  • 17. 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
  • 18. Interest Group System & Democracy
  • 19. Inequalities in the Interest Group System
    • Representational
    • Resource
    • Access
  • 20. 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
  • 21. 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.
  • 22. 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?
  • 23. 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.
  • 24. 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.
  • 25. 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.