Groups, Interests, and U.S. Public Policy

Groups, Interests, and U.S. Public Policy

Groups, Interests, and U.S. Public Policy

Groups, Interests, and U.S. Public Policy


Synthesizing theory, personal research, and prior studies on interest groups and other lobbies, William P. Browne offers a new, insightful overview of organized political interests and explains how and why they affect public policy.

Drawing on his extensive experience researching interest groups, Browne assesses the impact that special interests have long had in shaping policy. He explains how they fit into the policymaking process and into society, how they exercise their influence, and how they adapt to changing circumstances.

Browne describes the diversity of existing interests -- associations, businesses, foundations, churches, and others -- and explores the multidimensional tasks of lobbying, from disseminating information through making financial contributions to cultivating the media. He shows how organized interests target not just the public and policymakers but even other interest groups, and how they create policy niches as a survival strategy. He also looks at winnable issues, contrasts them,with more difficult ones, and explains what makes the difference.

"Groups, Interests, and U.S. Public Policy" is a serious study written in a lighthearted tone. It offers political scientists a new theory of how and why interest groups influence public policy while it enlightens students and general readers about how policy is actually shaped in America.


This introduction is short, in the hope that all readers will pay it attention, using it to better follow the remaining text. Unlike most of my previous projects, this is not an empirical study based on original, systematically collected data. Rather, this is integration and modest addition to theory. It's intended to advance what political scientists understand of organized political interests and their relationship to public policy. It's also to be used for continuing education and undergraduate learning. I wrote this book because some excellent clinical empiricists kept reminding me that frequently we need to stop data collection and assemble what we have into a workable logic. the assembled theory revolves around three principles of how public policy takes place and four generally neglected questions about organized interests and where they fit into the policy-making process. These principles and the related questions are explained in the next sections.

Three Guiding Principles

The chapters that follow are my interpretation of interest politics after years of paying attention to, and sometimes playing, the policy-making game. They also rely heavily on the existing literature on both organized interests and public policy. These chapters are not meant to serve as an elegantly constructed model of what may or may not take place in politics. the ensuing chapters are my organized thoughts, after years of listening to and questioning executives, lobbyists, group activists, policymakers, and their confidants. I've seen it all at work.

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