Glossary

Interest Groups Defined

association groups of companies or institutions that organize around a common set of concerns, often within a given industry or trade

collective good a good such as public safety or clean air, often produced by government, that is generally available to the population as a whole

contract lobbyist a lobbyist who works for a contract lobbying firm that represents clients before government

in-house lobbyist an employee or executive within an organization who works as a lobbyist on behalf of the organization

inside lobbying the act of contacting and taking the organization’s message directly to lawmakers in an attempt to influence policy

legislative liaison a person employed by a governmental entity such as a local government, executive department, or university to represent the organization before the legislature

lobbyist a person who represents an organization before government in an attempt to influence policy

membership organization an interest group that usually consists of dues-paying members who organize around a particular cause or issue

outside lobbying the act of lobbying indirectly by taking the organization’s message to the public, often through the use of the media and/or by issue press releases, in hopes that the public will then put pressure on lawmakers

particularized benefit a benefit that generally accrues to a narrow segment of society

public interest group an interest group that seeks a public good, which is something that accrues to all

Collective Action and Interest Group Formation

disturbance theory the theory that an external event can lead to interest group mobilization

free rider problem the situation that occurs when some individuals receive benefits (get a free ride) without helping to bear the cost

material incentives substantive monetary or physical benefits given to group members to help overcome collective action problems

purposive incentives benefits to overcome collective action problems that appeal to people’s support of the issue or cause

solidary incentives benefits based on the concept that people like to associate with those who are similar to them

Interest Groups as Political Participation

astroturf movement a political movement that resembles a grassroots movement but is often supported or facilitated by wealthy interests and/or elites

efficacy the belief that you make a difference and that government cares about you and your views

elite critique the proposition that wealthy and elite interests are advantaged over those without resources

fragmentation the result when a large interest group develops diverging needs

grassroots movement a political movement that often begins from the bottom up, inspired by average citizens concerned about a given issue

iron triangle three-way relationship among congressional committees, interests groups, and the bureaucracy

issue network a group of interest groups and people who work together to support a particular issue or policy

neopluralist a person who suggests that all groups’ access and influence depend on the political environment

pluralist a person who believes many groups healthily compete for access to decision-makers

Pathways of Interest Group Influence

voting cues sources—including fellow lawmakers, constituents, and interest groups—that lawmakers often use to help them decide how to vote, especially on unfamiliar issues

Free Speech and the Regulation of Interest Groups

Citizens United Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a 2010 Supreme Court case that granted corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections

revolving door laws laws that require a cooling-off period before government officials can register to lobby after leaving office

soft money money that interests can spend on behalf of candidates without being restricted by federal law

Licenses and Attributions

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