Govt 2306 ch_6


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Texas Government (GOVT 2306) -- Interest Groups

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Govt 2306 ch_6

  1. 1. Interest Groups GOVT 2306 Chapter 6
  2. 2. Interest Groups in the Political Process  What is an Interest Group?  An interest group (pressure group, special interest group, or lobby) is an organization of like-minded persons designed to influence government.  Political Parties and Interest Groups  Political parties and interest groups each attempt to influence governmental policy decisions but differ in their methods.  Political Parties  The main goal of political parties is to increase the numbers of its members who are elected or appointed to public offices in order to gain control of government to achieve party goals.
  3. 3. Interest Groups in the Political Process  Political Parties and Interest Groups  Interest Groups  The main goal of interest groups is to influence government officials to decide policy to their advantage.  They work on behalf of members sharing common views and objectives (trade associations, labor unions, etc.)  Functional Representation  Interest groups provide representation for people with similar interests but who do not constitute a majority in any one area.
  4. 4. Interest Groups in the Political Process  Reasons for Interest Groups  Right of association is protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution  Legal and Cultural Reasons  In NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right of association as part of the right of assembly granted by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Protects the right of people to organize into groups for political purposes  Furthermore, the nation’s political culture has traditionally encouraged individuals to organize themselves into associations.
  5. 5. Interest Groups in the Political Process  Reasons for Interest Groups  Decentralized Government  Decentralization of government enhances the ability of interest groups to influence the activities of governments at every level.  Divided power makes public officials more susceptible to the influence of interest groups  Dispersal of power within branches or departments of government enhances an interest group’s chance of success.  Strength of the Party System and Political Ideology  Party organizations are not cohesive, which further enhances interest group success.  However, a united and cohesive party with a concrete agenda and political strength can resist pressure from well-organized interest groups  Since ideological objectives are not a high priority in most interest groups, policymakers can afford to pay closer attention to their demands.  The growth of the religious right, on the other hand, may increase ideological voting. This influence is especially true for Republicans.
  6. 6. Organization of Interest Groups  Interest groups provide members with information.  Any group becomes an interest group when it tries to influence government.  Some interest groups have centralized organizations, where decision making is concentrated in one office.  Example: The NRA  Other groups are decentralized, so that every level has authority to make decisions independently.  Examples: labor unions (ALF-CIO)
  7. 7. Organization of Interest Groups  Membership and Leadership  Interest group members are most likely persons of high socioeconomic status.  Labor groups are the notable exception to that tendency.  One study found that more than two-thirds of all Americans belong to at least one group or association.  Most interest group members are passive.  Hence, decisions tend to be made by a minority of the interest group membership, people who have worked their way to positions of authority by having time and money to devote to the group.
  8. 8. Types of Interest Groups  Interest groups may be classified by function, by organizational structure, by the level of government that they attempt to influence, or by the particular branch of government that they try to influence.  Economic Groups  Many groups are organized to promote the economic self-interests of their members.  Business Groups  Business groups were among the first organized because they were most aware of the impact of government policies upon their interests.  At the state level, business organizations most often take the form of trade associations (groups that act on behalf of an industry).  Goals typically include lower taxes, a lessening or elimination of price and quality controls by government, and minimal concessions to labor unions.
  9. 9. Types of Interest Groups  Economic Groups  Labor Groups  Labor groups are very active but not as cohesive as other groups because of the diversity and limited number of their membership.  Goals typically include government intervention to increase wages, obtain adequate health insurance coverage, provide unemployment insurance, and promote safe working conditions.  Professional Groups  Professional groups are typically concerned with state standards for admission to their profession and the licensing of practitioners.  Government Employee Groups  Employees and officeholders of state and local government have organized to resist employee cutbacks and other issues that might affect them.  Goals typically include better working conditions, higher wages, more fringe benefits, and better retirement
  10. 10. Check my SlideShare page (rfair07) for more lectures Lectures posted for:  United States History before 1877 / after 1877  Texas History  United States (Federal) Government / Texas Government  Slide 10 of 19  To download a full copy of this PowerPoint presentation, please go to:   If you would like a copy of all the Texas Government lectures posted in PDF format, please check out at: 