Chapter 7 - Interest Groups

Chapter 7 - Interest Groups - Interest-Group Participation...

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Interest-Group Participation in American Democracy
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The Nature and Variety of Interest Groups Great variety of form Formal to informal Membership-oriented to contribution-oriented Ideological to single-issue Differing objectives: About 80 percent of IG’s represent professional or occupational constituencies 20 percent reflect citizens groups. (social movements)
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Pluralist Theory of Democracy Madison: “Take in a greater variety of parties and interests [and] you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens…[Hence the advantage] enjoyed by a large over a small republic.” Interests compete for influence and produce balance and compromise between different views in society.
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Growth and Development Several features of the American political system have encouraged the formation of groups Large and diverse nation Federalism and separation of powers Interest group formation has occurred in waves Post-Civil War: Nationalized Economy -> more groups Progressive Era ( 1900): more econ groups, NAACP Post 1960s (largest wave): very diverse, often narrow Recent generation of interest groups responded to changes in politics and technology.
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Forming and Maintaining Interest Groups Millions do not join groups. often 1% or less of potential membership. Common interest may be a necessary condition for membership, but…it is not sufficient — need resources . Not all interests form groups. If IG formation is skewed, politics may not be representative.
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Forming and Maintaining Interest Groups James Q. Wilson classifies these benefits into three categories. Solidary — joining for social reasons Material — joining for economic reasons Purposive — joining to advance a group’s social and political goals
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The Free-Rider Problem Public vs. Private goods “A tomato is a private good. If you consume it, others cannot.” (Fiorina et al., p. 185) Two factors cause Free Rider Problem Public goods Personal impact is not noticeable QuickTimeå and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
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Related Concept -- The Prisoner’s Dilemma Sometimes outcomes that offer better results for all involved are not reached.
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