Pressure groups in the USA

  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 12-04-13 13:41
What are pressure groups?
Organised groups of people who share a common interest that they wish to protect or a common aim that they wish to promote.
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What do pressure groups seek to do?
To influence public policy by gaining access to decision makers who have power.
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Compared to political parties, what to pressure groups do?
They represent narrower interests & have narrower aims, do not put up candidates in elections & do no seek or take responsibility for government
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What kind of democracy can pressure groups be found?
Pluralist democracy - where citizens can form or join groups to express their very diverse views & interests to government.
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Where is "the right of people peacefully to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances" enshrined?
The first amendment.
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How many pressure groups are there in the USA?
There are 100,000 interest groups & the vast majority of Americans belong to one.
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What has stimulated the growth of pressure groups?
The growing diversity of American society in terms of ethnicity, religion & socio-economic backgrounds
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What does the fragmented structure of American government provide for pressure groups?
Numerous access points at federal, state & local level. There are also opportunities in Judicial Branch - e.g NAACP role in Brown (1954)
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What has the rapid expansion in the scale & scope of government activity since the 1930s meant for the people?
That they feel the impact of government activity in their everyday lives & the expectations of government have increased.
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What do institutional pressure groups seek to do?
To protect the interests of their own members.
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What kind of pressure groups can be described as institutional pressure groups?
Business groups, labour unions, including the umbrella organisation AFL-CIO & groups representing various professions.
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What do membership/promotional pressure groups seek to do?
To promote the perceived interests of others or have broader ideological aims.
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What kind of pressure groups can be described as promotional pressure groups?
Think Tanks that conduct research, write articles, publish journals & organise conferences - usually with a particular ideological slant - in an attempt to influence those in political power.
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Give an example of important conservative think tanks.
The Heritage Foundation & The American Enterprise Institute.
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Give an example of important liberal think tanks.
The Brookings Institute & The Institute for Policy Studies.
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What do pluralist theorists stress?
The significance of diverse social groups in the creation of public policy. These groups compete with one another for influence & policy decisions made within well functioning pluralist democracies are the product of a wide array of organised groups
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What do elite theorists stress?
The importance of a small number of powerful groups that are deferred to in the decision-making process. Power is concentrated in the hands of a narrow few.
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What are the functions of pressure groups?
Perform the function of agenda building; aid citizen participation; perform a representative function; perform the function of programme monitoring; enhance public opinion; hold gov to account & INFLUENCE
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What are the 3 reasons for joining pressure groups?
Material benefits; purposive benefits & solidarity benefits.
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What are material benefits?
Rewards that individuals or companies get in return for their donations to a particular pressure group. e.g sources of information; service benefits or changes in policy which the PG will deliver to advantage of its members.
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What are purposive benefits?
To be a part of a movement, a cause - to try & make their society, or even the world, a better place. E.G Amnesty International.
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What are solidarity benefits?
A social benefit that is brought about principally from interacting with like-minded people. These groups centre their activities especially around local meetings that their members will attend.
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What is a lobbyist?
A paid organisation or individual that attempts to influence legislators or members of the executive branch on behalf of individuals & Pressure groups
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How do lobbyists work?
They establish & exploit long-term relationships with key decision makers.
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What has the size & scale of lobbying activities led to?
Fears that both the legislative & executive branches of government are effectively controlled by the lobbyists. Some often argue that it is necessary to regulate the lobbyist industry.
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What is the revolving door phenomenon?
Whereby members of the legislative & the executive leave their posts in order to use their contacts to take up lucrative contracts with lobbyists.
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What are the access points in Congress?
Committees; chair of committees; speaker; members of congress; own representatives; majority & minority leader
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What are the access points in the White House?
President; Cabinet; Government agencies; chief of staff; Civil Service (EXOP)
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What are the access points in the Courts?
Local court; state court; federal court & Supreme Court.
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What are the access points in State government?
Governor; state departments; committees; state legislature; city majors.
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What are Iron Triangles?
The semi-permanent alliances of powerful interests with particular congressional committees & relevant sections of the executive branch of government to skew public policy in the desired direction.
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What is Collective Action Problem?
The (narrowly rational) inclination of individuals to abdicate responsibility to unrepresentative leaderships.
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The later years of the 20th century saw a huge increase in the number of single-issue groups, what did this lead to?
Widespread anxiety about the impact of fragmented lobbying on wider democratic process in particular & on the central role of the political parties in the US.
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How have the old system of iron triangles been weakened?
The very proliferation & dynamism of group formation in the contemporary USA has weakened the old system of iron triangles
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Why have the old systems of iron triangles been weakened?
Few groups find themselves unchallenged & nearly all groups are forced constantly to adapt their techniques of lobbying, especially in relation to new technology in general & to the internet in particular.
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What are PACs & 527 groups?
Groups which serve to gather together donations & spend them in a way that gathers sympathy for the interests of the PAC & 527 contributors.
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How might interest groups attempt to influence elections?
Financial contributions; Shape the agenda - Christian Right focused the '04 election campaign on moral issues; voter mobilisation; influence a candidate image - 'Swift Boat Veterans' destroyed John Kerry's war hero image in 04
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The ACLU supported Reno v American Civil Liberties Union (1997), what happened in this case?
The Supreme Court struck down two provisions of the 1996 Communications & Decency Act on the basis that they violated the 1st amendment.
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The NAACP played a key role in Brown v Board of Education (1954), what happened in this case?
The Supreme Court ruled against segregation in schools.
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What factors most influence Pressure Group Success?
The party in power - sympathetic or not?; money; membership; professional lobbyists; unity; information & expertise; insider; narrow policy aims - realistic & achievable?
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What did the Honest Leadership & Open Government Act of 2007 do?
Closed the revolving door; prohibited lobbyists to give gifts to congressmen including travel; public disclosure of lobbying activity; denies congressional retirement benefits to members who are convicted of bribery, perjury, conspiracy
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What do pressure groups seek to do?

Back

To influence public policy by gaining access to decision makers who have power.

Card 3

Front

Compared to political parties, what to pressure groups do?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What kind of democracy can pressure groups be found?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Where is "the right of people peacefully to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances" enshrined?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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