U2, C9: Interest Groups

Interest group: private organization
that tries to persuade public
officials to respond to shared
attitudes of its members
“pressure groups”
“special interests”
“organized interests”
Seeks to influence the making and
content of public policy – all of the
goals that a government pursues in
the many areas of human affairs in
which it is involved
Function at every level of
1. Making of nominations
Interest groups try to affect the outcomes of primaries
and other nominating contests, but do not themselves
pick a candidate
2. Primary focus
Political parties: winning elections and controlling
Interest groups: controlling or influencing the policies of
3. Scope of their interests
Political parties: concerned with whole range of public
Interest groups: concentrate only on those issues that
most directly affect the interests of their members
Stimulate interest in public
affairs: issues and events that
concern the people at large
Interest groups represent their
members on the basis of
shared attitudes
Provide useful, specialized,
and detailed information to
Vehicles for political
Add another element to the
checks-and-balances feature of
the political process
Regularly compete with each
other in the public arena
Some interest groups have an
influence far out of proportion
to their size or their
importance or contribution to
the public good
Hard to tell just who or how
many people a group really
Many groups do not in fact
represent the views of all the
people for whom they claim to
Some groups use tactics that,
if they were to become
widespread, would undermine
whole political system
 Business
Government to protect and promote interests
Trade associations: segments of business
company have own interest groups
 Labor
Organization of workers who share the same type
of job or who work in the same industry
 Agricultural
 Professional Groups
Professions: those occupations that require
extensive and specialized training
Groups that promote causes
Exist to promote cause or idea
 Oppose certain causes
Organizations that promote the welfare of
certain groups of people
 Religious organization
 Public-interest groups
Seek public policies of special benefit to their
 Work for “public good”
 Institute certain public policies of benefit to all or
most people in this country, whether or not they
belong or support that organization
Influencing public opinion
 Supply public with information an
organization thinks people should
 Build a positive image for a group
 Promote particular public policy
Propaganda: technique of persuasion
aimed at influencing individual or
group behaviors
Influencing parties and elections
Lobbying: those activities by which
group pressures are brought to bear
on legislators and the legislative
 Grassroots: of or from the people,
the average voters
 Regulation
Purpose: Design a brochure for an interest
Activity: Each pair will develop a list of goals
and a statement of the policies for an
interest group. In addition, you will need to
design a symbol that expresses the interest
group’s goals and values. Brochure should
also include examples (pictures and
description) of your interest group at work
(see reading for ideas). You can find a list of
interest groups for a particular policy at: