Interest Groups

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Social Groupings and Organized Groups

What do Interest Groups Do?

bulletDirect Lobbying
Lobbying is the process of persuading public officials to take actions favorable to a given organized group.  Lobbyists are usually paid employees or hired hands for an interest group.  They have access to public officials and present the concerns, agenda, and needs of the interest group.  Access is the most important advantage which lobbyists have over ordinary people.  Lobbyists build up rapport with public officials over years, often decades.  Having the elected official as a college buddy, former business associate, or family member certainly helps.

Having Congress take no action be a successful strategy for an interest group.  Thus taking no action is in effect taking an action.  It is to keep things as they are.  Lobbying takes place with all branches of government.  

Lobbying with the judicial branch of government is called lobbying by litigation.
bulletIndirect Lobbying
bulletElectioneering is the process of helping a public official get re-elected.  Giving money to some campaign is the most effective  way in which interest groups can reward politicians who have voted favorably on that interest group's policy agenda.   
bulletPropagandizing is the effort by an interest group to pursuade the general public that the interest group is protecting the general interest in its policy agenda.  As long as a group, doctors for example, have a favorable image with the general public, it is difficult to pass legislation that seems to be harmful to that group.

Types of Human Organizations

    Formal Organizations
        Voluntary Associations
        Bureaucratic Organizations

Types of Organized Interest Groups

bullet    Economic Groups
bulletFarm Groups
bulletNational Farm Bureau Federation
bulletNational Grange
bulletNational Farmers Union
bulletNational Cattlemen's Association
bulletBusiness Groups
bulletNational Chamber of Commerce
bulletNational Federation of Independent Business
bulletNational Association of Manufacturers
bulletBusiness Roundtable
bulletCommittee on Economic Development
bulletAmerican Petroleum Institute
bulletLabor Groups
bulletAmerican Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
bulletUnited Automobile Workers Union (UAW)
bulletAmerican Federation of State and Municipal Employees (AFSME)
bulletAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT)
bulletNational Education Association (NEA)
bulletTeamsters Union
bulletProfessional Associations
bulletAmerican Medical Association
bulletAmerican Bar Association
bulletAssociation of Trial Lawyers of America
bulletNational Association of Realtors
bulletNon-Economic Groups
bulletReligious Groups
bulletEthnic and National Origin
bulletSingle Issue Interest Groups
bulletNational Rifle Association
bulletNational Right to Life Committee

Fortune Magazine "Power 25 Survey for 2001"
The Top 25 Interest Groups

October 2, 2002

Fortune Magazine periodically produces a list of the most influential interest groups in Washington, D.C.  This is called the Fortune Power 25 Survey.  The top 25 interest groups on its Survey  for 2001 is listed below .  You can find that WEB page at:  

1.  National Rifle Association
2.  American Association of Retired People (AARP)
3.  National Federation of Independent Business
4.  American Israel Foreign Affairs Committee 
5.  Association of Trial Lawyers of America
7.  Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America
8.  National Beer Wholesalers of America
9.  National Association of Realtors
10.  National Association of Manufacturers
11.  National Association of Homebuilders of the United States
12.  American Medical Association
13.  American Hospital Association
14.  National Education Association of the United States
15.  American Farm Bureau Federation
16. Motion Picture Association of America
17.  National Association of Broadcasters
18.  National Right to Life Committee
19.  Health Insurance Association of America
20.  National Restaurant Association
21.  National Governors' Association
22.  Recording Industry Association of America
23.  American Bankers Association
24.  Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
25.  International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Researching Interest Groups

In researching an interest group, you would want to tell me about the organization you picked.   Why did you pick it?  What interests does it represent?  Many interest groups are trade associations.   They represent an entire group (or groups) of businesses, many of which are very powerful corporations by themselves.  For example, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), at their WEB site , tells you the following:  The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its international counterpart, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) serve as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries, domestically through the MPAA and internationally through the MPA.   (  The MPAA has many members.  They only list a few, but as you can see by the list, these are huge corporations.

 These members include:

Walt Disney Company;
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.;
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.;
Paramount Pictures Corporation;
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.;
Universal Studios, Inc.; and
Warner Bros. "

On the 2001 Fortune Magazine Power 25 Survey, they are listed as Number 16 in the amount of money (read dollars, $$$) they spend on Congress to lobby for their interests.  Each of the Power 25 organizations is an interest group, which lobbies.  Most interest groups that lobby have set up Political Action Committees (PACs). 

Model Outline

Title:   Name of the Organization

Statement of Purpose:  Two or three sentences about the main theme or purpose of your paper.

I:  General Information

    1.  Name of Organization
    2.  When Founded
    3.  Purpose of Organization
    4.  Membership
        a.  who are members (individuals or other organizations or both?)
        b.  how many members
        c.  what are the membership dues per year
    5.  Organizational Structure
        a.  Local and State Chapters
        b.  Annual Meeting
        c.  Executive Committee
        d.  Officers
            i.  President
            ii.  Secretary-Treasurer
        e.  Paid Staff or Secretariat
            i.  General Secretary
            ii.  how many staff members
        f.  Headquarters
    6.  Budget of the Organization

II:  Issues

    1.  Current Issues of Concern Before Congress
    2.  Recent Legislative Victories
    3.  Recent Legislative Defeats

III:  Lobbying and Money

    1.  Name of Your Organization's Political Action Committee
    2.  How much Money Do they Raise and How
    3.  Who gets their Campaign Contributions?
        a.  Money given to Republicans
        b.  Money given to Democrats
        c.  What Standing Committees of Congress are those who get money on?
    4.  Who is their chief lobbyist?
    5.  Evaluation of their Lobbying activities

IV:  Conclusion

Bibliography:  Do at least 5 entries using the Turabian format.


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Written September 27, 2000
Updated September 19, 2002

Updated January 3, 2011
Copyright Dr. Harold Damerow
Senior Professor of Government and History
Union County College
Cranford, NJ 07016