Presentation on theme: "Political Communication & interest groups"— Presentation transcript:
1 Political Communication & interest groups David Last
2 An Aside on Managing Regionalism Interest GroupsAn Aside on Managing RegionalismHow does Canada manage the political tensions inherent in regionalism?Interstate and intrastate mechanismsInterstate – between provinces and the federal governmentIntrastate – within the federal governmentSegue to interest groups: are regional interests a particular example of interest groups? Are the mechanisms for managing regional interests applicable to other types of interests in Canadian politics?
3 Interstate ------------ Intrastate Interest GroupsInterstate IntrastateBetween Ottawa and the ProvincesFirst Minister’s ConferencesInter-governmental Affairs (central agency)Technical discussions between departmentsPublic diplomacyWithin the federal governmentRegional representation in CabinetRepresentation by populationSenate SeatsRegional agencies (e.g. ACOA)Decentralization of federal services
4 Outline: Interest Groups Political communicationMontpetit: useful or harmful?What are interest groups?Pluralist perspectiveAlmond’s classification: Anomic, non-associational, associational, institutionalCollective action and the free rider problemPatterns of interest groups in Canada and the USHow to win friends and influence governmentsLobbying and lobbyistsHow social movements differ from interest groups
5 What is political communication? Interest GroupsWhat is political communication?
6 Political Communication Interest GroupsPolitical CommunicationPolitical communication is communication about political subjects or communication for political purposesThe budget was political communication from the executive to legislative, but also to public, civil societyStudent protests in Montreal about tuition hikes are political communication through public spaceProtesters against cuts are communicating in political spaceThis communication is enabled by physical means and protected by law and custom (Charter, access)We can map this communication in a model of the political system
7 Political Communication Interest GroupsPolitical CommunicationCivil SocietyELAJPublic SpacePolitical infrastructure
8 What are Interest Groups? Montpetit (2009) “Organizations created to facilitate collective action by groups with shared interests, to make a contribution to governance without seeking public office”Mintz et al (2009, 253) “A group of people who have joined together to pursue common interests and whose political activity is generally focused on trying to influence the making and implementation of the laws and policies of a political community.”Werner and Wilson in Caramani (2009, 349) “Interest groups are membership organizations and advocacy groups that make policy-related appeals to the government.”
9 Pluralist Perspective Interest GroupsPluralist PerspectivePluralist theory: “An approach to politics that assumes that society is composed of individuals who join groups to influence political outcomes. Politics is seen as the competition among groups for preferred policies. It assumes that all citizens can form groups and that no group has a permanent advantage in society.” (Brodie et al, 2008, 389)Climate change protest, 2009
10 Almond’s Classification Interest GroupsAlmond’s ClassificationAlmond, G., Powell, B., Dalton, R. & Strom, K. (2007). Comparative politics today, 9e. NY: Pearson Longman.Montpetit has relabeled some classic distinctions by Almond et alAnomic interest groups – unstructured (e.g. shoppers)Non-Associational interest groups – unjoined (e.g. women)Associational interest groups – joined (e.g. unions)Institutional interest groups – embedded (e.g. parties)
12 Interest groups and political culture The forms and boundaries of interest groups are strongly influenced by political culture: “The values, attitudes, and beliefs that are widely held within a political community.”(Mintz et al, 2009, 507), but think also about habitus – the way people are used to behaving, particularly at the outer ring of anomic interest groups, where there is less constraining structure.A burlesque protest in Ukraine against sexual harassment, 2011
13 Getting closer to power… Interest GroupsGetting closer to power…Associational and institutional interest groups have more instruments and more opportunity to influence the centres of power than do non-associational and anomic interest groups, although the latter can have a big impact (think of the “soft revolutions” that brought down the Communist regimes in E. Europe).Political parties (institutionalized) court the votes of large groups (associational or institutional interest groups).
14 Anomic Interest Groups Lack formal organizationNo obvious leadersTemporary, form briefly in response to circumstancesLoose, fluid, membershipBehaviour strongly influenced by political cultureExamples:Spontaneous riot over railway closureWelcome crowd at London Airport for Olympic medallists
15 Non-Associational Interest Groups Lack formal structureAre defined mainly by common characteristicsThey tend to be temporary, loose organizations, formed for specific short-term goalsExamples:commuters’ group arguing for change to a bus routevegetarian cadets lobbying for more menu choice
16 Associational Interest Groups the most common form of interest grouporganized and structured to achieve political goalsmay also exist for other purposesExamples:NRA, BCNI, CNIB
17 Institutional Interest Groups Well-structured and enduring organizations with strong ties to major political structuresStable membership and clear objectivesRoutinely implicated in the policy-making processExamplesAssembly of First NationsCanadian Council of Chief ExecutivesThomas D’Aquino with Mexican President Calderon at Montebello Summit, 2007
18 Spot that interest group? Interest GroupsSpot that interest group?What sort of interest group is each of the following?Royal Canadian LegionCARP -Ontario Environmental Industry AssociationCanadian Cancer SocietyToronto Maple Leafs supporters
19 Collective Action Theory Interest GroupsCollective Action TheoryMancur Olson (1965), The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups Cambridge, MA: Harvard University press.The paradox of collective action is that people participate in politics to make collective decisions about the allocation of goods and bads to large groups,But once those decisions are made, everyone benefits or pays whether they participated or not, so why should anyone participate?
20 Interest GroupsFree Rider ProblemWhy engage in costly collective action, when someone else will do it for you, and you can reap the benefits when they succeed, i.e. why not be a ‘free rider’?A “public good” is one that, once provided, must be provided for all. Examples are clean air, national defence, public health.Prior to Olson, the accepted wisdom was that the tyranny of the majority was the main problem for democracies – fear of the mob. His work in the 1960s demonstrated that apathy of the mob permitted tyranny by elites, despite democratic mechanisms and rhetoric.selective incentives were necessary to support democratic engagement. In practice, these have often taken the form of public subsidy for interest groupsFederal government is reviewing charitable status of politically engaged groups
21 Patterns of Interest Groups What sort of interest groups?Profit sector is largely business interest groups, makes up more than a third in the US. It is “self-interest” in Mintz et al’s scheme. Citizen and non-profit groups can both be labelled “public interest” although in the broadest sense, since many have very specific and limited goals.Which is the most concentrated policy domain, and what sort of organization dominates it?Which is the least concentrated policy domain? Why do you think this is the case?What sort of organizations do you think are most engaged in defence policy, and how would you investigate this?
23 Interest Groups in Canada 198119902000Women’s Groupsn/a710Environmental58Labour unions111213Professional16Voluntary (health, welfare, social)1724Total percent3439Source: World Value Surveys , in Young and Everitt, 2004, 28. (from Perlin, 2001)
24 How to Win Friends and Influence Government 1/2 Interest GroupsHow to Win Friends and Influence Government 1/2Get organized, get big but stay cohesiveHave a big membership listBe distributed across key ridingsDemonstrate your reach and influenceAvoid internal dissensionMobilize your membersKeep your membership engagedForm coalitions with like-minded groupsBe richMoney helps keep the organization going and get your message outProfessionals can be hired (lobbyists, consultants, surveys, advertising)Make friends in high placesKnow the influential peopleBack door entry to policy circlesSometimes it pays to be invisible, so you don’t embarrass your political friends
25 How to Win Friends and Influence Government 2/2 Interest GroupsHow to Win Friends and Influence Government 2/2Be known as the expertsIf the public trusts you, the government will be more likely to quote youBe conventional, go with the flowYou will have more influence if your ideas conform to the ideology of the party in power; if they don’t, dress them upNegative advertising: credible threats about consequencesBad news travel well in mass media – use it to make it look like you have the solutionEliminate the competitionYou don’t want competing lobby groups on the same subject. If possible, compromise and merge or form coalitions (e.g. WWF and Greenpeace)
26 Lobbying and Lobbyists Interest GroupsLobbying and LobbyistsIn Canada, the Lobbyists Registration Act requires lobbyists to register if they take payment from a client to communicate with government officials, develop legislative proposals, or policies, seek to influence the award of government contracts, or arrange meetings.Federal legislation on campaign contributions and funding of political parties reduced the influence of business and union donations.2010 US Supreme Court ruled against restrictions on corporate finance of political messages , parties, or campaigns, in any part of the electoral cycle (5:4 split decision).Result is likely that US political scene will be increasingly dominated by big money; Canada may be stuck ‘harmonizing’ with the results, or may be able to maintain independent regulatory regime.
27 A routine part of politics… Interest GroupsA routine part of politics…(A Hill Times publication)Public Sector Union wait-listed for budget lock-up after anti-cuts campaignIndustry-backed gambling private members bill easily passes HouseHeavy lobbying continues on $33B ship-building contractsBudget turns MPs, Labour’s foucs away from contriversial union finance billAttending budget lockup gives lobby groups an advantageGlencore hires two firms to lobby for Viterra takeover
29 Montpetit: Useful or Harmful? Interest GroupsMontpetit: Useful or Harmful?They don’t just hijack policy; they can contribute to the public good“Organizations created to facilitate collective action by groups with shared interests, to make a contribution to governance without seeking public office”Peak associations = groups of groups, internalize debate, formal rules [institutional interest groups]Unitary groups = groups of individuals [associational]Contributions: advocating, lobbying, policy-making, self-regulatingUtility: groups are most useful when uncertainty is high and there is no clear sanction (e.g. climate change)
30 Interest GroupsSocial MovementsMintz et al (2009, 509) “A network of groups and individuals that seeks major social and political changes, particularly by acting outside of established political institutions.”Kriesi in Caramani, (2009, 394) “social movements are engaged in conflicts with some opponents”
31 Elements of a Social Movement Interest GroupsElements of a Social MovementThere are three main elements to a social movement:A group of people in conflict with an opponentA collective identity built on common beliefs and goalsA repertory of collective actionsSocial movements are not organizations: “The boundaries of social movements are inherently disputed, unstable, and ultimately dependent on mutual recognition by the members of the group involved.” (Kriesi in Caramani, 2009, 394)
32 Occupy Bay Street The promise of peaceful mass-mobilization Interest GroupsOccupy Bay StreetThe promise of peaceful mass-mobilizationProtesters clash -
33 Summary What are interest groups? Pluralist Perspective Almond’s classification: Anomic, non-associational, associational, institutionalCollective Action and the Free Rider ProblemPatterns of interest groups in Canada and the USHow to win friends and influence governmentLobbying and LobbyistsWhat are social movements?
34 Questions for Discussion Interest GroupsQuestions for DiscussionWho speaks for you? Why them?What interest groups form spontaneously around you?What determines whether these groups are short-lived or durable? How do they become more formal and organized?What happens to the connection between constituents and organizations as interest groups become move towards the institutional end of the spectrum?How do interest groups and social movements differ?How do they interact with other political institutions?
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