On the one hand allowing individuals to form groups to press their demands on

On the one hand allowing individuals to form groups

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, James Madison argued that there is a dilemma inherent in interest group activity. On the one hand, allowing individuals to form groups to press their demands on government is the essence of freedom, and limiting that freedom would be tyranny. In Madison’s words, this cure would be “worse than the disease.” The answer, for Madison at least, is to have a multitude of factions. The greater the diversity of interests competing for their own private benefit, the less likely it is that any one of them will dominate the system. In other words, these interests will regulate one another, and the result will be compromise and moderation. Pluralism 2 Pluralism is a condition or system in which many groups, interests, or ideas co-exist in a nation and share political power As long as all groups are free to organize, the system is arguably democratic, as individuals will join groups they support and will not join groups they oppose Bigger groups will have power, as they should But some groups organize more easily It is important to note the critiques of pluralism (for example, it over-represents the wealthy and the well- educated). Economic interest is one of the main purposes for which individuals form groups Examples of groups that protect economic interests: American Farm Bureau Federation AFL-CIO American Medical Association Groups that are formed to protect economic interests find it easier to organize because members readily see the benefits of organization (economic) weighed against the costs. Individuals organizing to pursue a social policy agenda may have a more difficult time weighing the costs (financial and other) against the benefits, as the costs and benefits are in different units. Groups with more members are more powerful AARP is powerful because it represents so many active voters Groups need money to sustain the organization and to fund their activities (lobbying, voter education, etc.) Groups with access and organizational discipline are more successful People with higher incomes and higher levels of education are more likely to be members of interest groups There is thus an upper-class bias in the interest-group system
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The bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder are represented by some groups, but political parties do a better job of representing these interests E. E. Schattschneider made this argument best in his classic work The Semi-Sovereign People . Schattschneider concluded, “The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent.” Pluralist theory suggests that interest groups form whenever there is a group interest to be organized. But this does not always happen. Some groups, such as college students, are “latent groups” because they may have common interests but do not necessarily form into an interest group.
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