Presentation on theme: "Interest Groups Why are groups so important? –Can individuals made change acting alone? No, unless perhaps that person is extremely wealthy –Aggregation."— Presentation transcript:
Interest Groups Why are groups so important? –Can individuals made change acting alone? No, unless perhaps that person is extremely wealthy –Aggregation of resources Money, members = power –Forming advocacy coalitions Collective voice louder than single voice Groups or “special interest groups” are sometimes viewed as a bad thing. Why?
Interest Groups: Background Have been around since founding –Madison mentions them in Federalist 10 A relatively small number of groups until the 1960s –Major growth in interest groups in the 1960s Why? 1)Diversity of population 2)Diffusion of power: more actors involved, so more room for lobbying 3)Increasing number of agencies/programs = more clients 4)Weakening of political parties: people turn to groups 5)Technology: Easier to form/maintain groups 6)Increasing public demands (resources and rights)
Kinds of Interest Groups Institutional interest groups –Membership because you belong to a particular institution, such as Univ. of Kentucky Share some interests with other students –Affordable tuition –Quality education Membership interest groups –Groups you choose to join NRA, Green Peace, AARP
Types of Membership Groups Economic (private interest) –Are primarily interested in benefits for members –Example: Labor Unions --> The economic security of the group’s members are directly at stake Public interest groups –Seek to create broad benefits for everyone –Example: environmental groups –***Non-members of public interest groups are free- riders Other types of groups –Churches, for example
Why Do People Join Groups? To gain some sort of a benefit. –Economic well being or gain –The desire to do good –The desire to belong to or identify with a group –The desire to find a way to make one’s voice heard –To get the freebies: magazines, journals, calendars, etc.
What Do Groups Do? Lobbying (providing information) –Lobbying individual members of Congress, Congressional Committees, members of bureaucracy Lobbyists can provide information that is unavailable or unknown to elected officials Has to be GOOD information, or else no one would listen to them again Support candidates –Money to campaigns (directly or indirectly) –Votes (mobilization of members to vote for candidate)
When Lobbying Fails…....Interest Groups turn to other strategies: Mobilize members to take action –Contacting members of Congress, boycotting (Mont. Bus Boycott), March on Washington Sue in court –NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc Most prominent victory was Brown v. Board Public protests and “direct action” –Riots, Protests (World Trade Organization)
Groups and Power We all know that some groups have more power than others Think of the most powerful interest groups in the United States: AARP AFL-CIO (Labor Unions) NRA Why do some groups have more power than others?
Differences in Group Power Resources –Money –Information Size of membership –Not just membership, but ability to mobilize members Voting, Contacting, Protest/Petition Reasons for membership –Direct economic incentives –Material inducements Congruence of goals with prevailing ideas and values –If public opinion supports a group’s cause
Free-rider Problem Public goods are goods that can benefit everyone, and from which no one can be excluded –Two characteristics: non-rival -- one person's enjoyment or consumption of the good does not prevent others from using it non-excludable -- people cannot be prevented from using the good Examples: –Roads, Nat’l defense, clean air, end of world hunger etc.
Free-rider Problem Non-excludability leads to the free rider problem: A free rider is a consumer or producer that benefits from the actions of others without paying –Because of the free rider problem, public goods are usually provided by the government, which levies taxes to pay for the goods
Overcoming Free-rider Problem Small Groups –Peer pressure, solidarity incentives against free-riding Coercion –Lobbying governmental jurisdictions to hire, approve, or certify only their members, to force free-riders to join Selective benefits –Journals, consulting services, etc. –AARP: World’s largest mail-order pharmacy, low-cost insurance, discounts on goods/products/services (all for $12.50/yr.)