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Lecture 14

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Political Science
POLI 222
Christa Scholtz

Interest Groups Pressure Groups Politics is about overcoming inertia/apathy Politics is not a spectator sport, those that stay on the side-lines are the objects of politics and not the creators of it It is fundamentally based on which views are put in the public agendas, which issues win, etc An organized minority is a political majority All of those interests of unorganized minorities are not as important/strong, do not carry the weight of those that are organized The power comes when you are organized, when you act collectively Pluralism There are a lot of interests out there and they're all compete for attention and resources There is more or less equal play The state itself is a neutral arbiter between these groups The Logic of Collection Action By Mancur Olson 1965 Central conundum Public goods are distinguished by a central characteristic: non excludability At this time, there's a lot of activism action Groups are forming and collective interests grow together Free riders have an incentive not to act because they don't have to They can free ride of the efforts of others There are evidence that people do stand up and public goods are provided In order to do that, you need a selective incentive You have to offer something to them that is not directly related to the goal they are trying to achieve External inducements e.g like money, prestige, You have to provide economic stability in order to carry on your agenda Functioning of Interest Groups Neo-institutionalism Community model Policies change in an institutional context Policy fields are complexed Not only about who represent an interest About understanding who the key interest groups are and how they relate to governmental institutions/organizations e.g. if you care about resources, you don't care about the Secretary of Defence, you talk with the Minister of Natural Resources Corporatism Idea that the state is involved in the structure of interest groups The way policies are decided is about who the top organizations are Hierarchy of interest groups Neo-marxism The state itself is a neutral thing, but arguing that state is about class politics They privileged those interests that it sees in itself Not fluid Talks to a certain kind of analysis Critique Interest groups represent a specific interest and they're job is not to put forward a general public interest But at the end of the day, it's about if they can put forward their member's political agenda They are so powerful that the voices of those not so organized will never be heard Those with the big bucks are easier to organize and have more institutional power They are anchored in the network of government Problematic --> democracy in peril Strong pressure politics are negative Puts our democracy in parallel So the government should be more transparent about its connection to interest groups and should be more open about it Quentin's Notes: INTEREST GROUPS - We are linked to governments through interest groups o Enables a link to the policy process Schattschneider: Politics is the mobilization of bias - Mobilization: speaks to the necessity for action o Politics is about overcoming inertia o Politics is not influences by spectators - Bias: Politics is not neutral o It’s not about a neutral discussion that is calmly undertaken without emotion, interest or an agenda o There is a competition based on whether some views are expressed, and which are placed on the public agenda - All individuals that act individually are not as strong as those who are organized as a group o All voices and interest in a system are not equal, power comes when you are organized (act collectively) Key Questions: - Where do groups come from? - How and to what degree are they organized? - How and under what conditions do they exert influence? - What role do they play in democratic politics o Are these a legitimate and necessary part of a democratic politics or are do these fundamentally threaten our democratic position Interest group: Pluralism (Truman, Bentley) - Assumption that there are lots of interests out there, these interests are all competing to be heard, they are more or less equally competitive - Basic idea that power was diffuse across many interests through the organizations that represent them - The state was a neutral arbiter between these groups – Policy making was basically about choosing in a neutral fashion between groups and their arguments of what was requires and appropriate o The state does not have a priority interest into which group it will listen to - It would be un-sophiscate understanding to consider that the state has no interest - Second Critique: If there are needs and interests, an agenda to be expressed, there will be an organization that will form in order to take on that role – the distribution of groups is representative of all possible groups that might exists – TOOOO MANY INTEREST GROUPS (FALSE) some may have more power Mancur Olson: The Logic of Collective Action -
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