Citizens, Political Communication, and Interest Groups: Environmental Organizations in Canada and the United States

By John C. Pierce; Mary Ann E. Steger et al. | Go to book overview

very similar in the Canadian and American settings--political environments that share a clear postindustrial character but differ in their institutional design and political cultures--adds further to the importance of the language game aspects of interest group politics in contemporary society.

In a period of declining conventional political participation and partisan affiliation, falling newspaper readerships, and widespread television dependency on the acquisition of understanding of social reality, the major struggle to capture influence likely lies in the language games of contemporary politics ( Kellner 1990, pp. 161-174). The raiding of animal labs, the announcement of having spiked old-growth trees, the futile occupation of fragile sections of land--what sense do these actions of "eco-warriors" make in terms of votes, contributions, or influence in a state legislative process? Unlike the groups studied here, some environmental activists have forsaken the conventional routes to influence completely and devoted their entire attention to the symbolic level of politics ( Scarce 1990). While the environmental groups that participated in this study maintain a faith in the propriety of remaining within the boundaries of conventional political struggle, they quite clearly are sensitive to the centrality of information phenomena and understand well the language game aspects of their work.


NOTES
1.
Both full-time and part-time staff were considered in the creation of the measure representing the availability of a paid staff; groups having no paid staff were coded 0 and those with a paid staff were coded 1. In Ontario, 20 groups (53%) have paid staff; 12 Michigan groups (52%) have paid staff.
2.
The size of the groups' annual budgets ranged from a low of $200 to a high of $6 million (mean = $252,006; S.D. = $827,663). Because of this variation, budget amounts were placed into categories of low (up to $2000), medium ($2,200 through $100,000), and high ($118,000 through $6 million), and these categories were coded 1, 2, and 3, respectively.
3.
The number of volunteers associated with these groups ranged from 0 to 1000 (mean = 139; S.D. = 246). These values were placed into three categories--few (0-20), average (25-60), and many (100-1000)--and coded 1, 2, and 3, respectively.
4.
The percentage of group funding raised from dues ranged from 0 to 100 (mean = 53; S.D. = 39). In the cross-tabulation analyses, these values were placed into three categories coded 1 (0% through 25%), 2 (30% through 75%), and 3 (80% through 100%).
5.
Three items were combined to create the percentage of funds raised from sources external to the group: the percentages raised from foundations, government sources, and private corporations. No money from any of these external sources was raised by 33 groups; consequently, these groups were coded 0 and groups with some funding from external sources were coded 1.

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Citizens, Political Communication, and Interest Groups: Environmental Organizations in Canada and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figure and Tables ix
  • Series Foreword xiii
  • Notes xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter One - Information, Individuals, and Interest Groups 1
  • Conclusion 31
  • Chapter Two - the Political Culture Context 33
  • Notes 64
  • Chapter Three - Trust in Sources of Policy-Relevant Information 69
  • Notes 94
  • Chapter Four - the Information Incentive 95
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter Five - Organizational Resources and Informational Capacity 123
  • Notes 147
  • Chapter Six - Environmental Groups as Communicators 151
  • Note 170
  • Chapter Seven - Interest Groups, Individuals, and the Technical Information Quandary 171
  • Conclusion 186
  • Appendix Survey Questionnaires 191
  • References 211
  • Index 223
  • ABOUT THE AUTHORS 227
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