Chapter 10 Interest Groups
Interest Groups An organized group of people who share some goals and try to influence public policy.
All Groups Are Not Interest Groups! • Fan clubs • Sports teams • Alcoholics Anonymous • Religious groups that emphasize personal salvation, spirituality rather than public policy
Five Main Functions of Interest Groups Representation Education Programming Monitoring Political Participation Agenda Building
Freedom of Association Guaranteed First Amendment to the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Permissable (?) Limits on the Right of Association • Require a parade permit or bond for legal liability • Funds for extra police protection, traffic control, litter • Laws against inciting a riot or encouraging criminal activity • Decibel limits on loudspeakers • Limit activity to a designated public space • Security of government officials: President, Governor • Bar tax-exempt organizations from endorsing parties or candidates
Tough Issues for Freedom of Association • Can gays and lesbians march in the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York City? - NO • Can the American Nazi Party march in a heavily Jewish suburb? - YES • Can the Boy Scouts refuse to accept gay scoutmasters? – YES • Can clergy endorse candidates from the pulpit?
10-3a Economic Interest Groups Business Groups Organized Labor Agricultural Groups Professional Associations
10-3b Citizen Groups Public interest groups are dedicated to promoting a vision of good public policy rather than the economic interests of their members. Examples: Common Cause League of Women Voters Sierra Club MoveOn.org
10-3c Government Interest Groups State Governments Foreign Governments Local Governments
10-4b Overcoming Obstacles to Interest Group Formation Collective Goods Dilemma A dilemma created when people can obtain the benefits of interest group activity without paying any of the costs associated with it. In this situation, the interest group may not form because everyone has an incentive to let someone else pay the costs of group formation.
Free riders People or groups who benefit from the efforts of others without bearing any of the costs.
Three Benefits of Interest Groups • Material benefits - Goods and services received by member. • Solidarity benefits - Emotional and psychological enjoyment of being in a group that shares your goals. • Expressive benefits - Satisfaction of working for a cause you believe is just and right. Also known as purposive benefits.
Material Solidarity Expressive Selective Benefit: A benefit given to group members, but denied to nonmembers
Why Join the American Political Science Association? • Selective benefits: journal, lower conference fees • Solidarity benefits: networking with other members via Web site or conference • Expressive benefits: support lobbying on behalf of intellectual activities and good citizenship Reforms in election administration, campaign finance Access to government documents, Presidential libraries Funding for research • A professional nonprofit association does NOT take stands on political issues
Why Join the National Rifle Association? • Selective benefits: cheaper ammunition, rifle ranges, gun-safety classes • Solidarity benefits: links to other hunters, gun enthusiasts • Expressive benefits: support the right to bear arms, resist efforts at gun control. The NRA also provides information on candidates’ positions or voting records on gun control • The NRA is explicitly political, not nonprofit, and can thus take stands on partisan issues and endorse candidates
Political Action Committees Organizations that solicit contributions from members of interest groups and channel those contributions to election campaigns.
10-5b Lobbying the Government Trying to influence governmental decisions, especially the voting decisions legislators make on proposed legislation.
Types of Lobbying • Direct Lobbying - Trying to influence public policy through direct contact with elected government officials or bureaucrats. • Education Campaigns - Interest groups try to mobilize the public through education, hoping that the public will demand government action. • Grass-Roots Lobbying - Trying to influence public policy indirectly by mobilizing an interest group's membership and the broader public to contact public officials.
More Types of Lobbying • Astroturf Lobbying - Efforts, usually led by interest groups with deep financial pockets, to create synthetic grass-roots movements by aggressively encouraging voters to contact their elected officials about specific issues. • Advocacy Advertising - Newspaper, television, and radio advertisements that promote an interest group's political views. • Civil Disobedience - the practice of breaking laws in order to pressure legislators into changing them. Civil Rights movement – marches, restaurant and movie sit-ins Includes Juror Nullification - refusal to convict people accused of violating unjust laws. 1850s – Northern juries refuse to return escaped slaves 2000s – some African-Americans refuse to convict blacks charged with drug crimes, or to impose capital punishment on black criminals
10-6b Internal Factors Membership Financial Resources Objectives Leadership
The Debate over Social Capital • Since 1960s, declines in membership groups: labor unions, bowling teams, lodges, PTA, local party organizations. • Increase in professional lobbying groups based in Washington DC. Citizens only involved by writing checks or sending E-mails to public officials. • Lack of group contact may lead to lower voter turnout and less political awareness. • Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone: Americans are watching TV instead of joining organizations.