Clicker Question Do you currently have political INTERESTS? A. Yes B. No
Clicker Question Are you currently a member of an INTEREST group? A. Yes B. No
What are Interest Groups? Organizations that see to achieve some of their goals by influencing government decision making. 1. Shared Interest 2. Organizational Structure
Shameless Plug… Spring 2012 POLS 2401: Global Issues **Transfers in Area E** MW 10:00-11:15
Parties vs. Interest Groups
Interest Groups and Democracy PRO: Interest groups represent the interests of their members, encourage political participation, transmit preferences between elections, educate and mobilize voters, lobby, and monitor governmental activity. CON: As Schattschneider says, “The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent.” Who Joins What interests mobilize What does it take to be successful? BIAS Are Interest Groups Good for Democracy?
Interest Groups and Bias Pluralism or Elitism? Pluralist Theory: Holds that policy making is a competition among diverse in interests that CAN and DO mobilize into groups to exert influence over the government… Elite Theory: The Ruling Class, composed of wealthy, educated individuals wields most of the power in government… Are all INTERESTS organized into GROUPS? Are we closer to Pluralism or Elitism today?
Clicker Question Do you agree or disagree that political interest groups are good for American democracy? a. Strongly agree b. Agree c. Disagree d. Strongly disagree
Who Joins Interest Groups? Interest group membership is not random! People with higher incomes, higher education levels, and management or professional occupations are more likely to be group members than those in lower socioeconomic levels. Are you a voluntary member of an Interest Group?
Who Joins Interest Groups?
“Latent” Interests Many public policy “interests” are not organized into “groups.” either because no one has organized them or because there is no way to organize the group. Examples: Undergraduates, Tall People, Left-Handed People, The Homeless, Sex-Offenders… The Elderly were a “potential interest” until AARP was founded in 1958. Should ALL interests be FREE to organize?
Clicker Question ALL “interests” present in society should be free to organize and attempt to influence the government. a. Strongly agree b. Agree c. Disagree d. Strongly disagree
Attracting and Retaining Members Remember the “Free-Riding” problem? So, how do you get people (with common interests) to organize into a group? ANSWER: Give’em Stuff! Selective Incentives 1. Solidary – Feeling of belonging, companionship. 2. Purposive – Believing in the group’s cause. 3. Economic (Material) – Networking, Career Related, National Geographic Magazine, AAA 4. Informational – GPSA, Journal of Politics Which types of groups struggle with recruitment and retention?
Clicker Question What does an Interest Group need MOST to be powerful? A. Money B. Good Selective Incentives C. A large membership D. A clear message
What Makes an IG Successful? 1. Resources, Resources, Resources 2. Size 3. Leadership 4. Cohesiveness The most effective groups like the NRA and AARP have all of these.
Clicker Question Should contributing money be considered political speech and therefore protected? A. Absolutely B. To a certain extent C. Only in a very limited way D. Not at all
Most Powerful Interest Groups:
Interest Group Typology PRIVATE Business and Agricultural – Economic Sectors, Large Corporations, Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau Federation… Labor – AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers, National Education Association, Teamsters… Trade and Professional Associations – AMA, ADA, ABA, American Bankers Association… PUBLIC Public Interests – Sierra Club, Common Cause, ACLU, NRA Ideological Groups – People for American Way, Christian Coalition, Tea Party Patriots Also, Public-Sector Groups – National League of Cities, Brookings Institution, CATO Institute, universities, Which groups are more prevalent?
Clicker Question In grassroots mobilization, interest groups: A. deal directly with just junior members of Congress B. file suits in state and local courts C. deal directly with lower-level bureaucrats D. attempt to involve the general citizenry and voters
Interest Group Strategies DIRECT – Lobbying: To communicate face-to-face with decision makers Also: Litigation; Testimony; INDIRECT – Mobilizing Public Opinion (Climate Control); Electioneering; We can also think about strategies as Insider: Lobbying; Campaign Finance; Testimony; Litigation; Outsider: Climate Control; Litigation;