Special Interest Groups Essays

Pocketbook members are people who pay dues but do little else in the group, although they may occasionally write letters or call Congress if asked by the group.Some groups have a formal organizational structure while other groups are less formal, and some are not really structured at all.Interest groups will continue to shape government policies.

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Activities include meeting with, calling, faxing, or writing government officials and staff as well as giving testimony or speaking at public meetings, submitting position papers, engaging in relevant lawsuits, and writing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs—statements written by nonparticipants in a case that supports the legal argument made by one of the participants.

Indirect lobbying seeks to influence government officials through a third party such as the media or a group’s members.

Staging events that obtain press coverage (i.e., press conferences and protests) and writing letters to the editor are two common methods of using the media.

Also, groups ask their members to engage in various direct lobbying activities (rather than the organization doing so itself), perhaps by e-mailing or calling their congresspersons.

Electioneering occurs when interest groups raise funds to sponsor their preferred candidate for a government position.

The public Interest groups focus on issues that concern the general public such as social, health and environmental.Three primary theories address the role of interest groups in the United States.The pluralist theory holds that enough interest groups should participate in the political process so that everyone’s interests get represented, whether or not individuals participate.Although examples of elite success exist, other successful examples that elitists thought would not succeed have also occurred.Hyperpluralism, the third theory, notes the large number of interest groups in U. politics and says those who are against something have a better chance of success, because the government’s structure makes change more difficult than maintaining the status quo.In terms of goals, private interest groups (i.e., businesses) primarily seek benefits that can be limited to their members.Public interest groups (i.e., civil rights) advocate for benefits that cannot be limited to their own members.The elitist theory challenges the pluralist view, arguing not all groups are represented and the ones that are not represented equally.It argues further that public policy is primarily influenced by a small elite group rather than by a wide array of interest groups or the general population.They are usually properly funded, well organized and have permanent structures.As a result of this, to make their voices heard and to gain access to the government, they make use of certain strategies which include: lobbying policy makers, litigation, electioneering and demonstrations.


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