The American Democracy, 10th Edition (Patterson)

Chapter 9: Interest Groups: Organizing for Influence


citizens’ (noneconomic) groups  Organized interests formed by individuals drawn together by opportunities to promote a cause in which they believe but that does not provide them significant individual economic benefits.
collective (public) goods  Benefits that are offered by groups (usually citizens’ groups) as an incentive for membership but that are nondivisible (such as a clean environment) and therefore are available to nonmembers as well as members of the particular group.
economic groups  Interest groups that are organized primarily for economic reasons but that engage in political activity in order to seek favorable policies from government.
free-rider problem  The situation in which the benefits offered by a group to its members are also available to nonmembers. The incentive to join the group and to promote its cause is reduced because nonmembers (free riders) receive the benefits (e.g., a cleaner environment) without having to pay any of the group’s costs.
grassroots lobbying  A form of lobbying designed to persuade officials that a group’s policy position has strong constituent support.
inside lobbying  Direct communication between organized interests and policymakers, which is based on the assumed value of close (“inside”) contacts with policymakers.
interest group  Any organization that actively seeks to influence public policy
interest-group liberalism  The tendency of public officials to support the policy demands of self-interested groups (as opposed to judging policy demands according to whether they serve a larger conception of “the public interest”).
iron triangle  A small and informal but relatively stable group of well-positioned legislators, executives, and lobbyists who seek to promote policies beneficial to a particular interest.
issue network  An informal and relatively open network of public officials and lobbyists who have a common interest in a given area and who are brought together by a proposed policy in that area. Unlike an iron triangle, an issue network disbands after the issue is resolved.
lobbying  The process by which interest-group members or lobbyists attempt to influence public policy through contacts with public officials.
outside lobbying  A form of lobbying in which an interest group seeks to use public pressure as a means of influencing officials.
political action committee (PAC)  The organization through which an interest group raises and distributes funds for election purposes. By law, the funds must be raised through voluntary contributions.
private (individual) good  Benefits that a group (most often an economic group) can grant directly and exclusively to individual members of the group.
single-issue politics  The situation in which separate groups are organized around nearly every conceivable policy issue and press their demands and influence to the utmost.
Patterson Tenth Edition Large Cover
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