The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion

By David B. Truman | Go to book overview

12
Techniques of Interest Groups in
the Legislative Process

ALTHOUGH access is the fundamental objective of group activities in the legislature, it is in a sense the minimum objective. Once achieved, access provides an opportunity to maneuver, a chance to use established relationships and the procedures of the legislative body to give effect to the group's claims. But access must be made effective, and an important determinant of the interest group's success is, therefore, the skill with which it and its "members" in the legislature are able to exploit their position. This is a matter of techniques.

There is no single formula, no simple chronology of devices that all effective groups use in standard fashion. Implicit in the notion of degrees of access is the additional fact that tactics within the legislature are tremendously varied. Because the position of no two groups is precisely identical and because the resources of any single group are in part altered by the presence of other groups operating in the same area, techniques appropriate at one time may be inappropriate or unavailable at another. Moreover, the formal and informal characteristics of legislatures -- national, State, and local -- differ and change. While it would be comforting, therefore, to be able to present a sort of manual, a "how to do it," of group legislative techniques, the complexity of the legislative process will not permit it. Our method rather will be to look at various legislative procedures, primarily those in the Congress, and to judge their significance in relation to activities of interest groups.

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