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CHAPTER 9 INTEREST GROUPS. The purpose of this chapter is to survey the wide variety of interest groups or lobbies that operate in the United States and.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 9 INTEREST GROUPS. The purpose of this chapter is to survey the wide variety of interest groups or lobbies that operate in the United States and."— Presentation transcript:


2 The purpose of this chapter is to survey the wide variety of interest groups or lobbies that operate in the United States and to assess their impact on the political system

3 THEME A American Interest Groups in Comparative Perspective

4 REASONS FOR PROLIFERATION OF INTEREST GROUPS 1. Greater number of social cleavages along income, occupational, religious, racial and cultural lines 2. The American constitutional system stimulates political activity. Federalism and separation of powers mean there are many different centers where decisions are made.

5 REASONS FOR PROLIFERATION OF INTEREST GROUPS 3. The decline of political parties have made the wielding of power made interest groups more practical

6 There are two kinds of interest groups - institutional and membership. Typical of institutional interest groups are governments, foundations and universities. Membership groups are supported by the activities and contributions of individual citizens.

7 Institutional interests Defined: individuals or organizations representing other organizations Types –Businesses: example, General Motors –Trade or governmental associations Concerns--bread-and-butter issues of concern to their clients –Clearly defined, with homogeneous groups –Diffuse, with diversified groups Other interests--governments, foundations, universities

8 Membership interests Americans join some groups more frequently than people in other nations –Social, business, and so on, same rate as elsewhere –Unions, less likely to join –Religious or civic groups, more likely to join –Greater sense of efficacy and duty explains the tendency to join civic groups Most sympathizers do not join because –Individuals not that significant –Benefits flow to nonmembers too

9 Incentives to join Solidary incentives--pleasure, companionship (League of Women Voters, AARP, NAACP, Rotary, etc.) Material incentives--money, things, services (farm organizations, retired persons, etc.) Purpose of the organization itself-- public-interest organizations –Ideological interest groups' appeal is controversial principles –Engage in research and bring lawsuits

10 THEME B - History and Interest - Group Formation Four factors help explain the rise of interest groups. 1. Broad economic developments 2. Government policy 3. Religious and moralist movements 4. Response to Government Actions

11 Broad economic developments create new interests –Farmers produce cash crops –Mass production industries begin

12 Government policy itself –Created veterans' groups-- wars –Encouraged formation of Farm Bureau –Launched Chamber of Commerce –Favored growth of unions

13 The birth of interest groups –Periods of rapid growth Since 1960, 70 percent have established an office in Washington, D.C. (K Street) 1770s, independence groups 1830s and 1840s, religious, antislavery groups 1860s, craft unions 1880s and 1890s, business associations 1900s and 1910, most major lobbies of today

14 Interest Groups and Social Movements Environmental Movement The Feminist Movement The Union Movement

15 THEME C. - Bias in the Group Process and Kinds of Organizations Whether an organization`s political positions will represent its members' interests will be depend on at least four factors. 1. The homogeneity of the Group 2. People's motives for joining 3. The size of the staff 4. The level of militancy and activity of the membership

16 Influence of the staff Staff has most influence if members joined for solidary or material benefits National Council of Churches and unions are examples

17 WHO JOINS ORGANIZATIONS THE PROBLEM OF BIAS Organizational Membership and Social Class

18 Problem of bias –Reasons for belief in upper-class bias More affluent more likely to join Business or professional groups more numerous; better financed –Why these facts do not decide the issue Describe inputs but not outputs Business groups often divided among themselves –Important to ask what the bias is Many conflicts are within upper middle class

19 WELDING INFLUENCE SPENDING MONEY Sources of Funds for Interest Groups 1. Foundation Grants 2. Federal Grants and Contracts 3. Individual Contributors

20 Funds for interest groups –Foundation grants Ford Foundation and public-interest groups Scaife foundations and conservative groups –Federal grants and contracts National Alliance for Business and summer youth job programs Jesse Jackson's PUSH –Direct mail Unique to modern interest groups through use of computers Common Cause a classic example Techniques –Teaser –Emotional arousal –Celebrity endorsement –Personalization of letter

21 THEME D - Interest Groups in Action Interest groups provide: 1. Credible information 2. Public Support 3. Money 4. The absence of trouble 5. The "Revolving Door"

22 THEME E - Controlling Interest Groups and Lobbyists GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS Spending by Political - Action Committees (PAC)


24 The Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946 A law which required groups and individuals seeking to influence legislation to register with the secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House of Representatives. - It merely required direct disclosure and registration standards (quarterly financial reports - money received and spent for lobbying)

25 1. It applied only to lobbyists' efforts to influence Congress (not the executive department branch) 2. It covered only efforts to influence not efforts to provide information. 3. It did not apply to contracts between lobbyists and congressional staff members. 4. There more no enforcement mechanisms. From 1946 to 1979 there were only five prosecutions by the Justice Department 5. No staff to enforce law 6. Grassroots activity not restricted.

26 1995 Act provided a broader definition of lobbying 1. Requires reports twice a year, including client names, expenditures, issues. 2. Still exempted grassroots mobilization. 3. No enforcement agency established, but Justice Department may take action. 4. Tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations cannot receive federal grants if they lobby.

27 Money and PACs Money is least effective way to influence politicians Campaign finance reform law of 1973 had two effects –Restricted amount interest groups can give to candidates –Made it legal for corporations and unions to create PACs Rapid growth in PACs has not led to vote buying. –More money is available on all sides –Members of Congress take money but still decide how to vote Almost any organization can create a PAC. –More than half of all PACs sponsored by corporations –Recent increase in ideological PACs; one-third liberal, two-thirds conservative

28 Money and PACs Ideological PACs raise more but spend less because of cost of raising money In 2000 unions and business organizations gave most Incumbents get most PAC money –Business PACs split money between Democrats and Republicans –Democrats get most PAC money PAC contributions small

29 No evidence PAC money influences votes in Congress –Most members vote their ideology –When issue of little concern to voters, slight correlation but may be misleading –PAC money may influence in other ways, such as access –PAC money most likely to influence on client politics

30 Self Test

31 For more information about this topic, link to the Metropolitan Community College Political Science Web Site main.htm

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