First World Interest Groups: A Comparative Perspective

First World Interest Groups: A Comparative Perspective

First World Interest Groups: A Comparative Perspective

First World Interest Groups: A Comparative Perspective

Synopsis

The first comprehensive appraisal of interest groups in Western democracies in thirty years also offers a systematic comparison of interest group activities and their impact on public policymaking in twelve post-industrial First World nations. Using a conceptual framework and varied perspectives, well-known experts provide a long-term assessment of interest group systems, identify similarities and differences, and point to current trends and future directions. This up-to-date overview and analysis examines the American model, British model with its derivations, continental European models, and systems in newer democracies. The chapters describe the factors affecting interest group make-up, their operating techniques, and their influence on public process. The concluding chapter provides further insights for understanding interest groups in a comparative context. A selected bibliography is helpful in pointing to sources for further study.

Excerpt

This book analyzes and compares the contemporary role of interest groups in public policy-making in twelve Western democracies. What all twelve have in common is that they are advanced, so-called First World or postindustrial democracies. This status has some important influences on the type of interest group systems that exist within these countries and the way these systems operate and affect public policy. Some readers might question Japan's being described as a Western democracy. But we contend that its governmental institutions and political processes are essentially Western. Few, however, would dispute Japan's status as a postindustrial society.

Since the mid-1970s there has been a revival of the study of interest groups both in the United States and in other Western countries. One aspect of this revival has been the publication of several books on comparative interest groups. Yet in most cases, and particularly in the area of corporatism, these books compare interests or specific groups across countries, such as educational organizations or trade associations, or treat particular aspects of the group process, such as the relationship between political parties and interest groups or the role of groups in implementing public policy. Even the more general books most often focus on group activity in a particular region such as Western Europe. This is not to question the important contribution to the comparative interest group literature made by many of these studies. What has been lacking, however, is a recent book that provides general background information on the contemporary interest group systems of the major Western democracies, analyzes the similarities and differences between them, and identifies trends in interest group systems. This is the gap in the literature that we are attempting to fill with this book.

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