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

entific experts. Among the Michigan groups, but not so among their Ontario counterparts, politicos' groups are much more likely to interact with scientific experts than are the purists' groups. It is also noteworthy that the American groups of which politicos are members are more likely to interact with scientific experts than either Canadian purists' or politicos' groups. Again, from these findings, it is evident that policy- relevant information appears to be substantially more politicized in the American setting than in the Canadian context, and thus perhaps more amenable to group-based responses to the technical information quandary.


CONCLUSION

This book has examined a number of stages in a necessarily complicated process--namely, how citizens in contemporary postindustrial democracies may exercise influence over policy questions of highly scientific and technical content. We have suggested the possibility that today's interest groups may assist in that process in a way that is at once distinct from the role of interest groups depicted by the traditional model of interest group pluralism and from the mass mobilization role of single issue groups that arose in the 1970s and 1980s. That assistance to the citizen comes in the form of cue-giving, resource-pooling, and influence-exerting activities that share a special focus on policy-relevant information. The underlying context for the analysis developed here has been the comparison of observations simultaneously collected among environmental interest groups in comparable Canadian and American settings.

Two primary answers can be given to the central questions posed throughout the book. First, it is indeed the case that interest groups in both the United States and Canada have the capacity to assist citizens in coping with the problem of the technical information quandary. Second, it does make a difference in which national political culture those interest groups operate. In particular, it was observed that Canadian- American cultural differences with respect to the role of groups in society emerged gradually and subtly throughout the analysis. The remainder of this chapter ties together some of these culturally connected strands of empirical evidence gathered in the course of our work reported here.

Understanding the cross-national patterns emerging in this analysis requires a brief retreat to the book's beginning. Chapter 1 presented several related views of the role accorded to groups in Canadian life and in the American society. In this regard, it is useful to recall anew the observations of Lipset, Presthus, and Merelman. Lipset has noted that "Canada has been and is a more class-aware, elitist, law-abiding,

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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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