Chapter 9 - Study Guide

Chapter 9 - Study Guide - POLS 101I American National...

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POLS 101I – American National Government Hagan Chapter Nine Interest Groups: Organizing for Influence Learning Objectives Having read the chapter, the students should be able to do each of the following: 1. Explain what an interest group is and how these groups differ from a political party. 2. Discuss the different types of interest groups and their constituencies, and compare and contrast the organizational advantages and disadvantages of economic and non-economic groups. 3. Define lobbying and explain its objective; list the tactics employed by interest groups in the lobbying process. 4. Compare and contrast the processes of inside and outside lobbying, their targets in the power structure, and the circumstances in which either are most effective. 5. Discuss the activities of political action committees and their influence on the election process. 6. Explain pluralist theory and interest group liberalism. Discuss the major weaknesses of the pluralist argument. Discuss the conflict between the advocacy of self-interest as the basic prerequisite for a free society and the government’s responsibility to protect and preserve the public interest (the Madisonian dilemma). Also, explain how James Madison’s constitutional system of checks and balances gives special interests precedence over the common good. Focus and Main Points The author focuses on interest groups and the degree to which various interests in American society are represented by organized groups. He believes that economically powerful groups dominate the group system, a belief not shared by pluralist thinkers. The chapter begins with a delineation of various types of groups, and offers an explanation for differences in the degree to which various interests are organized. The author also focuses on the lobbying process by which interest groups seek to achieve their policy goals and evaluates its impact on national policy. The differences between inside and outside lobbying are examined, along with the various forms of activity each entails. The chapter is concluded with a discussion of how the group system is simultaneously indispensable and flawed. The main points are as follows: Although nearly all interests in American society are organized to some degree, those associated with economic activity, particularly business enterprises, are by far the most thoroughly organized. Their advantage is due to their superior financial resources and because they provide individuals with private goods (such as wages and jobs) that are tangible incentives for membership. Groups that do not have economic activity as their primary function often have organizational problems. They pursue public or collective goods (such as a cleaner environment) that are available even to non-group members, so individuals may choose not to pay the costs of membership. Lobbying and electioneering are the traditional means by which groups communicate with
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Chapter 9 - Study Guide - POLS 101I American National...

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