The Influence of Interest Groups on Public Policy

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The Influence of Interest Groups Introduction An interest group is an association of individuals or organizations who share ideas and/or attitudes and attempt to influence public policy without trying to be elected. These groups may also be known as advocacy groups, pressure groups, or lobbying groups. Berman and Murphy (2011) note that American democracy is influenced by a number of well organized groups designed to persuade government policy toward a particular outcome. Although many distrust these groups the reality is they are a link between the public and policy makers. Interest groups are formed for a number of reasons. Economic interest groups encompass organizations that speak for big business while trade associations may represent entire industries. Public interest groups, government interest groups, religious interest groups, civil rights interest groups, ideological interest groups, and single issue interest groups all try to sway their influence over public policy. Many of these groups make their national headquarters in Washington D.C. to be near legislators and policy makers (Burstein & Linton, 2002). The number of interest groups in the United States has grown quickly over the last half century. From 1959 to 2001 the Encyclopedia of Associations shows increase from about 6,000 to 22,000 reflecting a growing diversity in interest groups. While trade groups once dominated the scene this is no longer the case, very few occupations of industries do not have
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