POLS 1500 Lecture Notes - Responsible Government, Invisible Hand

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27 May 2014
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November 5, 2012
Lecture Outline – Week 9
Interest Groups & Social Movements
The US Electoral System
1. Federal Elections 2012
2. Congressional Elections
-House of Representatives
3. Presidential Elections: The Electoral College System
Political Parties & Party Systems
4. Party Systems in Canada
Interest Groups & Other ‘Extra-Parliamentary’ Actors
5. Review: What is the terrain of politics?
6. The Concept of ‘Civil Society’
- Miriam Smith: “Social institutions and organizations that are independent of the state and
in which citizens pursue their interests, express they beliefs, and live in communities.”1
- The state vs. civil society, rule through coercion vs. rule through ‘hegemony’
7. Interest Groups
- Goals:
oEasily negotiable
oUses language the government understands
- Organization:
oPossess the economic and other resources to support ongoing organization
- Strategies (lobbying and court challenges):
oMore “access points” in the US due to the separation of powers; fewer “access
points” under responsible government
oTry to influence bureaucracy
oTrying to affect the electoral process via campaign contributions
oWorking through the mass media to draw public attentions
oUsing the courts to challenge the constitutionality of policies
oHiring professional lobbyists who will try to influence governments on their
- Are interest groups too powerful?
oAll individuals have the right to join groups that will further their interest
oCompetitive struggle for influence will lead to the best policy outcomes for
society as a whole, just as adam smith’s “invisible hand” of the market leads from
individual self-interest to economic growth for the good of everyone.
1 Studying Politics: An Introduction to Political Science, 4th ed. (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2012), 337.
8. Social Movements
- Comparison: Social movements vs. Interest groups
oInterest groups:
Division of labour
Narrow goals
Well organized
Formal structure
Many resources
oSocial movements:
Broad goals
Loosely organized
Informal structure
Few resources
- Organization:
- Goals:
- Strategies:
9. Closing Questions