A Citizen's Guide to Politics in America: How the System Works & How to Work the System

By Barry R. Rubin | Go to book overview

3
Issues and Interest Groups

Americans are a society of joiners. People come together in organizations and clubs to share interests, learn skills, and make friends. Businesses join associations to share information, learn new technologies, and formulate strategic plans. State and local government officials create organizations to share resources, learn from others' experiences, and discuss mutual frustrations. When each of these efforts turns to influencing public policy, the organization becomes an interest group.

Interest groups are increasingly the mechanism of choice for individuals and organizations to make their voices heard on public policy issues. Individuals and organizations, who may not know enough about an issue or how to influence decision makers to participate effectively on their own, can hire an interest group to do the work for them.

Interest groups allow those who, individually, may have comparatively little at stake, to aggregate their stakes with others of similar size, thereby making it economically and politically feasible to attempt to influence policy. Using pooled resources, interest groups afford their members an opportunity to have a greater impact than they could have by acting separately. 1


Inside Interest Groups

An interest group is an organized body of individuals or organizations (such as schools, businesses, state attorneys general, or churches) that

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A Citizen's Guide to Politics in America: How the System Works & How to Work the System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Change is in the Air 3
  • 2 - The Anatomy of an Issue Campaign 13
  • 3 - Issues and Interest Groups 26
  • 4 - Targets of Opportunity: Issue Arenas 43
  • 5 - Understanding and Influencing Public Opinion 65
  • 6 - Information and Persuasion 81
  • 7 - Media Advocacy 103
  • 8 - Finding Strength in Numbers: Building and Managing Coalitions 131
  • 9 - Persuading Decision Makers 149
  • 10 - Grassroots Mobilization 182
  • 11 - Initiatives and Referenda: the Public Takes Charge 213
  • 12 - Issues and Advocacy Strategies for the Twenty-First Century 228
  • Notes 257
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 279
  • About the Author *
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