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Pressure groups: Key questions

What is the theoretical basis of pressure groups activity?
What types of pressure groups exist in the USA?
What are their traditional functions?
Why do people join pressure groups?
What methods do pressure groups use?
What impact do they have?
How effectively are pressure groups regulated?…

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Revolvingdoor syndrome:
The practice by which former members of Congress (or the executive branch)
take up wellpaid jobs with Washingtonbased lobbying firms and then use their
expertise and contacts to lobby the institution of which they were once a
Iron triangle:
Term used to describe a strong relationship between…

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Further reading/research `Influence and lobbying' button on homepage `What we do' button.
Batchelor, A., `US pressure groups: a blight on democracy?' Politics Review, Vol.
19, No. 2, November 2009.
Dumbrell, J., `Pressure groups and the US Congress', Politics Review, Vol. 17,
No.4, April 2008.
Hefferman, R.,…

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Wright Mills: The Power Elite (1956)
Argued that the United States was ruled by a small governing elite,
meaning ordinary Americans had little real control over how they were
governed and who governed them.
Robert Dahl: Who Governs? (1961)
Claimed US society was actually governed by pluralism.
In three critical…

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Unlike parties, don't seek political office.
Vary considerably in size, wealth, influence.
Operate at all levels of government (federal, state, local.

Institutional pressure groups:
Seek to represent other organisations and groups
eg. trade groups: US Chamber of Commerce (represents thousands of
different businesses across the nation), labour unions (most of…

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US citizens can have their views represented and their grievances articulated.
One's senator or representative will be trying to serve a great variety of
constituents, their party and the administration.
Link between the public and politicians.
Channel of easy access for citizens to voice their opinions.
Views of all…

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Examples of key policy areas, and functions being performed by pressure
Prescription drugs
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is
lobbying hard for legislation that would give the private sector the
role in administering any prescription drug programme for senior
The American Association of Retired People represents…

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Berry and Wilcox (2007) suggested three classes of material benefit which
explain joining

Material benefits
"The tangible rewards that individuals or companies get in return for their
Believe something worthwhile will come out of membership
"If I join this pressure group, what will I get in return?"
"If I…

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Electioneering and endorsement
Since campaign finance reforms in the 1970s, considerable changes have taken
place in the role of pressure groups and political fundraising.
Limited amount that any pressure group could give to a candidate in a
federal election.
This encouraged PACs to be set up organisations whose purpose is…

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Allows them to be on hand to lobby members of federal, state and local
Overwhelming presence of lobbyists, referred to as `Kstreet corridor".
Some of the most notable lobbying firms are built around former presidential
aides and cabinet officers whose visibility and experience helps to attract clients.
Pressure groups…


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