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Govt. topics 5-9 - Govt Topics 5-9 TOPIC 5 Interest Groups...

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Govt. Topics 5-9 TOPIC 5 Interest Groups 1. The General nature of interest groups A: Definition: a formal organization of persons who 1. Share some common attitude (or interest) on some matter, and 2. make demands in others in society to promote or protect that matter - Not all groups are “interest” groups- emphasis on shared attitude or interest B: Interest Group Goals: 1. Pursue new benefits to promote group interests 2. Defend existing benefits to protect group interests 3. More effective on #2- conservative force II. Interest Group Formation and Membership A. Why are there interest groups? 1. First Amendment: freedom of association and speech 2. a type of political participation 3. Most Americans belong to or are closely associated with some interest group B. Why do people join interest groups? 1. material benefits 2. Solidary benefits 3. purposive benefits 4. Based on a theoretical assumption that people engage in collective action because it is rational to do so C. What is rational? 1. maximize benefits; minimize costs 2. Thus, people form and join interest groups when the benefits exceed the costs ( i.e . time, money, effort) D. Public Goods and the Free Rider Problem 1. Characteristics of “public goods” a. Non-excludability- once its provided, everyone gets the benefits from it; cannot be withheld from anyone (most important) b. Each Individual contribution is a trivial contribution to the total cost c. One person’s enjoyment of the benefit does not prevent others from benefiting from it (i.e. clean air is supposed to be guaranteed to everyone, scuba diving rules, Nation Defense) 2. Free Riders a. Rational not to join a group to produce public goods b. You get the benefits regardless, and your absence won’t be noticed c. But if everyone is rational, there won’t be enough participation to work to get the public good d. applies even if the benefits of the public goods are greater than the costs of participating
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e. Less of a problem in a small group 3. Overcoming the Free Rider Problem a. Offer selective benefits for people to join, (i.e. have to have a membership card with dues to be able to get the benefits) only available if you join b. Government coercion: general use of force, government requires you to join or else go to jail (i.e. labor laws: everyone who works in a select clothing shop must be apart of the labor union there); (A&M Coerces students to pay student service fees that go toward organizations that promote Liberal groups even though most students here are Republican and wouldn’t usually provide money to the liberal studies) c. Social ostracism: its going to be noticed if someone is free riding, you stick out and its embarrassing if you don’t comply E. Other Theories 1. Pluralist Theory- (of interest groups) – they form in reaction to problems created by particular social or economic events.
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