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Chapter 12

PSCI 1101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Free Rider Problem, Alexis De Tocqueville, Advocacy Group

Political Science
Course Code
PSCI 1101
Anand Sokhey

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Chapter 12: Groups and Interests
“Political Association in the United States,” Tocqueville
oPolitical association: joining together; right of it = cornerstone of
American democracy
oRight to associate = check on majority’s power to suppress political
oAllowing citizens to associate groups with interests provides outlet
for all types of political perspectives to be heard
oEnables compromises as each group tries to build support on shifting
ideas on individual issues
o“There is a place for individual independence [in the American system
of government]…all the members are advancing at the same time
toward the same goal, but they are not obliged to follow exactly the
same path.”
“The Alleged Mischiefs of Faction,” Truman
o“Ideals vs. institutions” gap: public becoming concerned with power of
interest groups and seeks to limit power
oWhen “what is” is different than “should be”
oPluralist theory
Encouraging competition bw interest groups = good
Competition for political power produces best approximation
of overall public good
oGroups = inevitable feature of American politics
oGroups form to give individuals means of self-expression/security
oChief motivation = uncertainty of social environment/threat to one’s
oPeople have “multiple or overlapping membership” in groups…”no
tolerably normal person is totally absorbed in any group in which he
oPotential for group to form = always present…potential can alone can
give potential group minimum of influence in political process
oInterest group system pushes toward compromise/balance in public
“The Logic of Collective Action,” Olson
oSome types of political organizations = more common than others (ex:
easier to organize groups around narrow economic interests than
broad “public goods” interests)
oCollective goods
When one is provided to a group, no member can be denied the
benefits of the good
Caveat: others can benefit even if they did not participate in
collective effort to win the collective good
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