Voices and Echoes for the Environment: Public Interest Representation in the 1990s and Beyond

By Ronald G. Shaiko | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Today, public interest representation in the United States is a multibillion dollar political enterprise. Yet only twenty-five years ago, the public interest sector at the national level amounted to no more than one hundred organizations with combined budgets totaling less than one hundred million dollars. This study focuses on the consequences of the dramatic organizational transformation of a loosely organized collection of social movement groups in the 1960s into the highly organized, professionalized public interest organizations of the late 1990s with specific attention given to the organization, maintenance, and representation of environmental groups.

As memberships, budgets, and staffs rise and fall, organization leaders are faced with new, often competing goals. No longer can it be assumed that the primary goal of public interest organizations is effective policy influence. Organizational maintenance now encroaches on the goal orientation of many organizations. In the new age of high-technology mass marketing, including the use of the “information superhighway” and professionalized staffing, public interest representation has a new meaning. Organization leaders now must provide effective political representation in the policy-making process as well as maintain organization infrastructures. Most contemporary public interest organizations have great difficulty achieving both these goals. For social scientists and students interested in political representation, for public interest leaders attempting to address these issues, and for the millions of citizens in this country who contribute billions of dollars annually to the public interest sector, this is a serious problem.

The title of this book is derived from two sources: one is an eminent political scientist who wrote numerous books and articles that have become classics in the field, and the other is an interview subject in the research for

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