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Interest groups and policy- making. Final exam: Saturday, December 8 th 9:00-11:00 AA1043.

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Presentation on theme: "Interest groups and policy- making. Final exam: Saturday, December 8 th 9:00-11:00 AA1043."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interest groups and policy- making

2 Final exam: Saturday, December 8 th 9:00-11:00 AA1043

3 Papers Due Friday, Nov. 30 th no later than 5:00 p.m.

4 An initial view Interest groups, along with parties, interpose themselves between the state and civil society Interest (or pressure groups) are groups which seek to influence, rather than control, government policy Sometimes referred to as organized interests Far more numerous than political parties in liberal democracies

5 Varieties Interests may be articulated by Ethnic, linguistic or religious groups Associations formed to represent or provide services to their members: –Trade Unions, Professional Associations –Producer groups, e.g. diary farmers, steel manufacturers Parts of larger organizations: –government agencies & departments –academic units (Political Science Department, Faculty of Arts)

6 Advocacy groups Associations advancing a cause: Greenpeace Sierra Club Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Heart and Lung Association National Citizens Coalition Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Water Trough Association (London, 19 th c)

7 Thinking about interest groups

8 Negative views: Interest groups are a blot on society Special interests pursue private interests & never the public interest

9 Alternate view: Interest groups are a necessary feature of liberal democracies Government need them to understand what different parts of society are thinking them Individuals and groups need interest groups in order to have their concerns heard Pluralist view: the public interest emerges from the pursuit of private interests

10 Explaining interest groups: Society-centred v.state centred explanations…

11 Society-centred explanations: Interest groups are regarded as normal inliberal democracies: James Madison in The Federalist Papers (1787): Interests (and interest groups) thrive wherever there is liberty An expression of civil society: citizens choose to associate when –they want something from government –something is bothering them

12 State-centred explanations: Policies generate interests: The more the state regulates, the more that interests will organize in order to shape the way in which they are regulated: –The case of the British Medical Association (BMA) before and after the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948 –Newfoundland Medical Association

13 Collective Action Problems The theory of collective action (from Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action, 1968): Self-interested individuals will be unwilling join associations if they can free ride & receive benefits (collective goods) anyway

14 Predictions The theory of collective action: Predicts membership only in groups which provide specific benefits and not in groups which pursue the public interest

15 Problem: People do join advocacy promotional groups with little obvious or direct benefit But, this varies from person to person and from society to society: –Not everyone is a joiner –And in some societies, people are more likely to associate than in others

16 Sectoral vs. peak associations Sectoral groups: active in only one sector of the economy – e.g –Dairy farmers –Fisheries Union, –Association of Seafood Producers (NL) –Steel Workers Peak Association - a federation or confederation of sectoral associations –Conference Board of Canada –Canadian Labour Congress –Trade Union Congress (UK)

17 Protective vs. Promotional Groups Protective groups represent sectors of the economy: –National Farmers Union (UK) –Board of Trade, Chamber of Commerce –CUPE, NAPE, MUNFA, CAUT, AUCC –Canadian Medical Association

18 Promotional Groups: promoting a cause National Rifle Association Canadian Civil Liberties Association CARAL, Right to Life NIMBY groups

19 Advocacy think-tanks Institutes which pursue causes, seek to advocate a position or set of positions:: Fraser Institute Atlantic Institute of Marketing Studies Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Project for the New American Century Cato Institute

20 Access and activities: Protective groups: For many, principal function is to provide services to their members However, also represent members’ interests to government via –Informal contacts with elected officials and bureaucrats –Serving on advisory councils or boards –Lobbying –Organizing promotional campaigns

21 Channels of access Vary from country to country and among interest groups Interest groups try to go where the power is – if they can gain access –In the United States, to the Congress –In other liberal democracies, to government departments where policies are formulated and where regulations drafted once a policy is put in place

22 Protective vs. promotional groups Protective groups often work quietly, most frequently through contacts with government bureaucracy –Often have greater influence on details of legislation and regulations implementing them than on the broader lines of government policy Promotional groups rely more on the media, mass campaigns because they lack access to bureaucrats and policy-makers

23 Why do government officials consult with interest groups? Consultation sometimes required -- via advisory or consultative boards Groups often provide valuable information and expertise Groups can be used to explain government policy to their members

24 Policy communities and issue networks: Policy community: –A close-knit community of those most closely involved -- snug and cozy –Government officials –Key interest groups, including firms, interest groups, and employee or professional associations e.g. organization of health or social welfare sectors in Germany Issue network: a looser and more open network of those involved or interested

25 Problem: How much consultation with interest groups is desirable? Are interest groups a blight or a necessary feature of an open polity? Can a society privilege certain groups but not others? For example: –Trade union federations & employers associations? –Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? –New Social Movements?

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