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US Politics Interest Groups. Overview Definition of Interest Group The Role of Interest Groups Why Join? –Logic of Collective Action –Benefits Delivered.

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Presentation on theme: "US Politics Interest Groups. Overview Definition of Interest Group The Role of Interest Groups Why Join? –Logic of Collective Action –Benefits Delivered."— Presentation transcript:

1 US Politics Interest Groups

2 Overview Definition of Interest Group The Role of Interest Groups Why Join? –Logic of Collective Action –Benefits Delivered Types of Interest Groups Influence and Importance

3 Definition Interest Group: –An organized group of individuals sharing common objectives who actively attempt to influence policymakers

4 Logic of Collective Action Prisoner’s Dilemma

5 Prisoners’ Dilemma Scenario: You and an accomplice are arrested on suspicion of committing some nasty crime The District Attorney and the police have been unable to produce enough evidence to convict you of that offense

6 Prisoners’ Dilemma We do have enough evidence to convict you of some lesser charge The only way the DA can nail you for the more serious offense is if one of you rats out the other Conversely, you and your partner can largely elude prosecution if you both stay silent You and your partner are placed in separate holding cells and are unable to communicate with each other DA enters and offers you the following:

7 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma

8 Don’t Cooperate with each other (rat) Don’t Cooperate with each other (rat) Cooperate with each other (hang tough) Cooperate with each other (hang tough) Prisoners’ Dilemma From your perspective, you and your accomplice are faced with the following:

9 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 0, 10

10 10, 0 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 0, 10

11 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 0, 10 Row Player Column Player

12 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10

13 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10 1, 1

14 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10 1, 1 What to do? Which strategy should you select?

15 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10 1, 1 Dominant Strategy Dominant Strategy

16 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10 1, 1 Dominant Strategy Dominant Strategy

17 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10 1, 1 Nash Equilibrium Neither player can improve his/her position,

18 Rat Hang Tough Prisoners’ Dilemma 10, 0 5, 50, 10 1, 1 Nash Equilibrium Neither player can unilaterally improve his/her position

19 Prisoners’ Dilemma Generalized Form: Rank Outcomes, from most preferred to least preferred –1 = first choice –2 = second choice –3 = third choice –4 = fourth choice Choice is “cooperate” or “not cooperate”

20 Don’t Cooperate Don’t Cooperate Cooperate Prisoners’ Dilemma 4, 1 3, 31, 4 2, 2

21 Prisoners’ Dilemma Symbolic Form: We’re in a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation whenever: T > R > P > S Temptation to defect > Rewards of Cooperation Rewards > Punishment for Not Cooperating Punishment > Sucker’s Payoff

22 Prisoners’ Dilemma Note that even if we start at the cooperative outcome, that outcome is not stable Each player can improve his/her position by adopting a different strategy

23 Don’t Cooperate Don’t Cooperate Cooperate Prisoners’ Dilemma 4, 1 3, 31, 4 2, 2

24 Prisoners’ Dilemma But since both players have changed strategy we end up at the non-cooperative outcome, where both players are worse off than if they had chosen to cooperate

25 Don’t Cooperate Don’t Cooperate Cooperate Prisoners’ Dilemma 4, 1 3, 31, 4 2, 2

26 Prisoners’ Dilemma And, as we noted, this non-cooperative outcome is also a Nash equilibrium outcome; Neither player has any incentive to change strategy since whoever changes will do immediately worse by making the move

27 Don’t Cooperate Don’t Cooperate Cooperate Prisoners’ Dilemma 4, 1 3, 31, 4 2, 2

28 PD & Interest Groups If a “collective good” is involved, individuals have little incentive to work towards achieving that good. Makes sense for others to do the work and sit back and reap the benefits of their labor But if that’s the case, then no one will do the work and the collective benefit won’t be delivered

29 PD & Interest Groups Groups need to overcome the logic of collective action Provide benefits so that potential members recalculate the costs/benefits of contributing

30 Benefits Delivered Material Incentives –monetary or other tangible rewards offered in exchange for membership Solidary Benefits –the positive gain of associating with other people Purposive Incentive –close identification of the group goal with personal goals

31 Types of Interest Groups Economic Interest Groups –Business –Labor –Agriculture –Professional Associations

32 Types of Interest Groups Environmental Groups “Public Interest” Groups “Single Interest” or “Other”

33 Sources of Power Interest Group success on an issue is a measure of the power of the interest group –where “success” means ability to get political actors to adopt and implement positions and policies favorable to the group The more success, the greater the power What sources of power can interest groups draw on?

34 Sources of Power Membership Size –Total number of active members –Total number of “sympathetic” persons –Financial Resources

35 Sources of Power Cohesiveness –Will membership act as unifed force? –Will membership participate fully in group activities like: Letter writing, voting, boycotting, protesting

36 Sources of Power Leadership –Will leaders effectively expand membership and recruit –Public relations –Lobbying efforts

37 Interest Group Strategies Recall definition of interest groups: –An organized group of individuals sharing common objectives who actively attempt to influence policymakers So, how do we influence policymakers?

38 Interest Group Strategies Insider Involves direct contact between IG and the political actor being influenced Outsider IG uses third parties from “beyond the beltway” to influence political actors Two main strategies:

39 Interest Group Strategies Insider –Lobbying providing information testifying before members of Congress presenting evidence to bureaucratic agencies informal social gatherings

40 Interest Group Strategies Direct –Campaign Assistance Volunteer to staff/help in campaign Contributions

41 Interest Group Strategies Outsider –Build alliances with other interest groups to influence political figures –Mobilize/shape public opinion –Mobilize constituents –Litigate

42 Interest Group Impact Interest Groups provide an important opportunity for citizen participation in the political process Yet the growth of interest groups on specific issues has potential to mask “private” interest as public policy


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