- Slides: 49
Interest Groups Chapter Nine
The Nature of Interest Groups Section One
An interest group is a private organization whose members share views.
It tries to promote its interests by influencing public policy, or the goals a government sets and the actions it takes to meet them.
Interest groups work at the federal, State, and local levels.
Interest groups and political parties both exist for political purposes, but their goals differ.
Political parties care mostly about who takes part in government, while interest groups care mostly about what the government does— especially on certain issues.
The role of interest groups in politics is controversial.
In their favor, they stimulate interest in public affairs, or issues that concern the people at large.
They offer people a chance to participate in politics and find others who may not live near them but who do share their views.
They often provide useful information to the government, while also keeping close tabs on it.
Since they compete with one another, interest groups often limit each other's extremes.
Interest groups are criticized for having more influence than they deserve based on the worth of their causes or the number of people they represent.
It can be hard to tell how many people an interest group represents.
Some interest groups do not represent the views of all the people for whom they claim to speak.
Finally, some interest groups do engage in dishonest behavior.
End Section One
Types of Interest Groups Section Two
Many Americans belong to several organizations that meet the definition of an interest group.
Such groups may be very large or quite small.
Most interest groups represent economic—that is, incomeearning—interests, such as business, labor, agriculture, and professionals.
A trade association is an interest group formed by one segment of the business community, such as banking.
A labor union is an interest group whose members are workers who hold similar jobs or work in the same industry, such as police officers.
An influential set of interest groups focuses on agriculture.
These groups may represent farmers who raise particular commodities.
Some professional interest groups also carry weight in American politics.
The largest of these are organizations of physicians, lawyers, and teachers.
Other interest groups are devoted to specific political and social causes.
They promote groups such as veterans and elderly people, or political causes such as protection of the environment.
Still other interest groups promote certain religious interests.
Public-interest groups work for “the public good"—that is, they try to represent all the people in the country on particular issues, such as voting rights.
They usually focus on issues that affect the roles that all Americans share, such as citizens, consumers, or drinkers of water.
End Section Two
Interest Groups at Work Section Three
Interest groups reach out to the public for three purposes.
First, they supply the public with information in an effort to gain support for their causes.
Second, they work to build positive images for their groups.
Third, they promote the public policies they favor.
To achieve their goals, interest groups often use propaganda—a technique of persuasion aimed at influencing individual or group behaviors to create certain beliefs.
These beliefs may be true, false, or partly true.
Interest groups recognize the role of political parties in selecting policy-makers and thus try to influence their behavior.
Some interest groups form political action committees (PACs) to raise campaign funds for candidates whom they think will further their goals.
Single-interest groups are PACs that concentrate their efforts on one issue.
They work for or against a political candidate based only on his or her stand on that one issue.
Interest groups may engage in lobbying, or bringing group pressure to bear on all aspects of the making of public policy.
Lobbyists, or agents for interest groups, use many techniques in their work, including grass roots pressure, or organized pressure from the average voters.
To prevent corruption, federal and State laws regulate lobbyists’ activities.
End Section Three
End Chapter Nine