Chapter 5-Interests Groups in
The Roles of Interested Groups
• An Interest Group is composed of people who
share a common set of ideas or principles and
who attempt to advance those ideas or
principles by influencing public-policy makers.
• Interests groups focus on a single issue or a
narrowly related group of issues. They can
afford to use their time on a single concern
that affects the members of the group.
The Types of Interest Groups
• Some of these groups are highly centralized in
their organization, meaning they concentrate
the decision making near the top.
• Other groups have a more decentralized internal
structure, meaning they make decisions widely
• Groups with tenuously connected interest are
called amorphous. (The homeless and welfare recipient
might fall in this category)
• Groups that represent the business
community in Texas are among the most
powerful and influential in the state. These
groups can consistently gain the ears of policy
makers because of their numerical strength
and because most have access to a vast
amount of information legislators can use.
• Interests groups that act on behalf of
organized labor have not fared well in Texas
politics. Labor groups tend to push for
enhanced workplace safety, preservation of
rights under worker’s compensation laws, and
limitations on the use of pesticides.
• Doctors , teachers, lawyers, accountants…are
some of the most powerful forces in Texas
politics and often rival business groups in their
influence on public policy formulation.
• Most of these groups focus on issues that
relate directly to their fields of expertise, such
as determining the criteria for admission to
the profession or setting the operational
boundaries of that profession.
• In reality these groups are often frustrated,
not only by the vestiges of racism and cultural
bias that still mark our political system, but
also by sometimes stubborn unwillingness to
work together on issues of common concern,
such as equal pay for equal work and equal
access to higher education opportunities.
• Many other kinds of interests groups abound
in Texas. Some of the most zealous in pursuit
of their aims are what can be called singleissue groups, meaning that they devote their
energies to pursuing a single, narrowly
defined policy goal.
• Example : National Riffle Association (NRA)
The Methods Of Interests Groups
• Interests groups exert the kind of influence
they do in Texas politics in large part because
they give legislators the one thing they need
the most and have the least information.
Successful interest groups spend a great
amount of time in information dissemination,
the ability of a lobbyist to provide information
to elected officials. The best information in
the world is worthless if you don’t have access
to those who can help your cause.
The Methods of Interests Groups
• A lobbyist is a person who works on behalf of
an interest group and serves as the point of
contact between the group and policy
• These lobbyists, as well as many who are
former legislators, are sometimes referred to
as hired guns. This simply means that anyone
can engage their services(if they can afford
• Membership mobilization needs to be
carefully crafted. Effective grassroots efforts
take a lot of work and oversight, and the
better organized the group is, the more likely
such actions will succeed.
• Small well organized groups are better than
large unorganized groups.
• State agencies and departments will be
responsible for implementing the provisions of
most bills. Many groups will seek to monitor the
actions of these agencies, verifying that they are
indeed doing what the law requires.
• Interim Oversight are the actions made by
interest groups aimed at protecting their gains
and promoting their goals between sessions of
External Funding: PACs
• There is a huge loophole through which
interest groups of all sorts have poured
hundreds of thousands of dollars. That
loophole is the political action committee , or
• A PAC is a voluntary association of individuals
who band together for the purpose of raising
and distributing money for political
The Iron Triangle
• It is a coalition formed among interest groups,
the legislature, and government departments
that accounts for the creation of much public
policy in Texas.
• It operates because each point on the model
has something that it can give to each of the
others. In return, each expects to receive
something from the others.
Interests Groups and You
• You could use this knowledge of interests
groups as another avenue of participation in
the political system here in Texas.
• You might have more than a passing interest
in things like tuition costs, residence
requirements, and curriculum mandates.
Decisions by government will directly affect
your livelihood, and you’ll want to have some
input into those decisions.
Chapter 5 Summary
• Interests groups are made up of people who
share a common set of ideas or principles and
who attempt to advance those ideas by
influencing public policy makers. Such groups
and their activities are protected by
constitutional guarantees of the rights to
assemble and to petition our government.