Types of Interest Groups

Business and Economic Interest Groups

Economic interest groups advocate for the economic benefit of their members, and business interests groups are a prominent type of economic interest group.

Learning Objectives

Identify the organization and purpose of business and economic interest groups

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Economic interest groups are one of the five broad categories of interest groups in the US.
  • These groups advocate for the economic interest and benefits of their members.
  • Economic interest groups are varied and for and given issue there will be large number of competing interest groups. These category includes groups representing representing business, labor, professional and agricultural interests.
  • Business interest groups generally promote corporate or employer interests.

Key Terms

  • business group: a collection of parent and subsidiary companies that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control
  • partisan: An adherent to a party or faction.

Business and Economic Interest Groups

Interest groups represent people or organizations with common concerns and interests. These groups work to gain or retain benefits for their members, through advocacy, public campaigns and even by lobbying governments to make changes in public policy. There are a wide variety of interest groups representing a variety of constituencies.

Economic Interest Groups

Economic interest groups are one of the five broad categories of interest groups in the US. These groups advocate for the economic interest and benefits of their members. Economic interest groups are varied, and for any given issue there will be a large number of competing interest groups. Categories of economic interest groups include those representing business, labor, professional and agricultural interests.

Business Interest Groups

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US Chamber of Commerce: This banner celebrating both jobs and free enterprise hung outside of the US Chamber of Commerce to commemorate the groups hundredth year.

Business interest groups generally promote corporate or employer interests. Larger corporations often maintain their own lobbyists to work on behalf of their specific interests. Companies and organizations will also come together in larger groups to work together on general business interests.

Umbrella organizations such as the US Chambers of Commerce (USCC) work around general business interests. While the name might suggest that this is a government agency, the USCC represents various business and trade organizations, and was formed as a counterbalance to the growing power of the labor movement in 1912. The USCC uses a wide variety of strategies and tactics in its work including lobbying or representation, and monitoring various laws and programs. USCC’s work is at times more partisan; for example, it might endorse a specific candidates.

Another example of an umbrella business interest group is the US Women’s Chamber of Congress (USWCC). The USWCC’s work could be described as agenda setting, as their work representing women in business attempts to bring attention to an issue that had been neglected. Like other business interest groups, USWCC will work though legal and lobbying to gain benefits for its constituency.

Because of how numerous and well funded business interest groups tend to be, there is always a concern that they are interfering with, rather than enhancing, the democratic process.Another example of an umbrella business interest group is the US Women’s Chamber of Congress (USWCC). The USWCC’s work could be described as agenda setting, as their work representing women in business attempts to bring attention to an issue that had been neglected. Like other business interest groups, USWCC will work though legal and lobbying to gain benefits for its constituency.

Labor Interest Groups

Labor interest groups advocate for the economic interests of workers and trade organizations.

Learning Objectives

Explain the decline of labor interest groups and new kinds of organization

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Labor interest groups are a type of economic interest group. Economic interest groups advocate for the economic benefit of their members and constituents.
  • Labor interest groups advocate for the economic interests of workers and trade organizations.
  • In addition to representing their members unions also often organized opportunities for direct citizen participation, along with public education and lobbying.
  • Membership in private unions has steadily declines. In 2011 on 7% of workers were union members. Public workers are still unionized at much higher rates.
  • New kinds of labor interest groups are developing to represent workers outside of the mainstream workforce, such as low-wage or freelance workers.

Key Terms

  • craft unionism: Craft unionism refers to organizing a union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level.
  • Industrial Unionism: Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations.

Labor Interest Groups

Labor interest groups are a type of economic interest group. Economic interest groups advocate for the economic benefit of their members and constituents. There are a wide variety of types of economic interest groups, including labor groups which advocate on behalf of individual workers and trade organizations. In addition to representing their members, unions also often organize opportunities for direct citizen participation, along with public education and lobbying.

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May Day Marches: May 1st is traditionally a day for protests and celebration for labor interest groups. In the US there is now also a focus on immigration and labor rights.

History of Labor Interest Groups

Some of the earliest unions in the US were formed by women in the textile industry in cities such as Lowell, Massachusetts. The National Labor Union (NLU) was the first American federation of unions formed in 1866. In these early days, unions lobbied against dangerous work conditions and for regulations around the work conditions of women and children. They also pushed for an eight hour work day and the right to strike.

The strength of labor interest groups continued in the 19th century. One example was the American Federation of Labor, a large umbrella group made up primarily of locals involved in craft unionism. While labor was more disorganized during the 1920s, the period during and right after WWII saw a continued growth of unions including the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The CIO was built around an industrial unionism model. These two major unions merged in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO.

Unions have had an uneven history with women and people of color. Some early unions, for example, specifically banned members who were Chinese or of Chinese decent. The Pullman’s union and the United Farm Workers unions are examples of unions that came together to advocate for the economic interests of African-American and latino workers.

Decline of Private Labor Interest Groups

With the reduction of manufacturing jobs in the US, the number of people represented by unions has fallen. Also, legislation such as the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act made it harder to organize by allowing individual states to ban “closed-shops. ” These are workplaces in which all new employees are required to join a union. Twenty-three states have such laws in place; these are the so-called “right-to-work” states.

While private union membership has declined, public unions are still quite strong. While only 7% of workers in the private sectors belong to unions, 31% of federal workers, 35% of state workers, and 46% of local government employees belong to unions.

New Kinds of Organizing

Even as traditional labor interest groups are seeing their numbers fall, there are new groups developing around new constituencies of workers who are outside of the mainstream workforce. Some examples include the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Domestic Workers United and the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), which represent low-wage workers. These groups focus on member education as well as advocacy and public education, ensuring their members are aware of the rights that they are already entitled to as well as organizing around new economic benefits.

Another example is the Freelancers Union which provides health care for members who are independent workers. Many of these workers are high-skilled or creative workers who are not eligible for workplace related benefits. This union also works as an agenda building organization, bringing attention to the challenges of freelance workers including the high tax burden for independent workers.

Professional Interest Groups

Professional interest groups represent the economic interests for members of various professions including doctors, engineers, and lawyers.

Learning Objectives

Classify professional interest groups that influence policy

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Professional interest groups are another type of economic interest group. Economic interest groups advocate for the economic benefit of their members and constituents.
  • While labor groups focused on trades and industrial labor, professional interest groups represent members of various professions including doctors and engineers.
  • These groups also often set rule for their members, including rules about certification and conduct including professional codes of ethics.
  • Professional organizations also provide direct economic benefits to their members. These benefits include personal or professional insurance as well as professional development opportunities.

Key Terms

  • professions: A job, especially one requiring a high level of skill or training.

Professional Interest Groups

Professional interest groups are another type of economic interest group. Economic interest groups advocate for the economic benefit of their members and constituents. There are many types of economic interest groups, including professional interest groups which organize and represent professional workers. While trade unions represent skilled and industrial labor, professional organizations represent skilled workers such as doctors, engineers, and lawyers.

These groups advocate for the economic interests of their members. They groups often set the rules for membership in their organizations. This includes rules about certification and conduct including professional codes of ethics. Professional organizations also provide direct economic benefits to their members. These benefits include access to personal or professional insurance as well as professional development opportunities.

One critique of professional organizations is that they serve to increase the income of their membership without any added value or service.

An example of a professional interest group is the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents doctors and medical students throughout the United States. The AMA conducts significant amounts of member and public education work, including publishing the Journal of the America Medical Association. It also carries out a substantial amount of charity work. Its broad mission is to promote the art and science of medicine for the betterment of the public health. However, it is also committed to advancing the interest of physicals, including economic interests. The AMA often lobbies on behalf of its members. For example, the AMA lobbied in campaigns against Medicare during the 1950’s and 1960’s. While the AMA now supports Medicare it did opposed attempts to create a national health care system. Another campaign that is directly related to economic interests is one to limit the damages awarded in medical malpractice suits.

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Journal of the America Medical Association: The first edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Today it is the most widely read medical journal in the world.

Agricultural Interest Groups

Agricultural interest groups are a type of economic interest group that represent farmers.

Learning Objectives

Analyze the organization and purpose of agricultural interest groups

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Agricultural interest groups are a type of economic interest group.
  • Agricultural interest groups represent the economic interests of farmers, including issues such as crop prices, land use zoning, government subsidies, and international trade agreements.
  • There is a long history of agricultural interest groups in the United States. An example is the American Farm Bureau Federation which started in 1911.
  • Today, agricultural interest groups are often divided among themselves. There are various types of farms and farmers in the U.S. with conflicting interests.

Key Terms

  • Yeoman farmer: Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as yeoman’s work. Thus, yeoman became associated with hard toil.

Agricultural Interest Groups

Economic interest groups are varied. For any given issue, there will be large number of competing interest groups. Categories of economic interest groups include those representing business, labor, professional, and agricultural interests.

Agricultural interest groups represent the economic interests of farmers. These interests include business and agricultural extension concerns, as well as matters of local, national, and even international policy. These include crop prices, land use zoning, government subsidies, and international trade agreements.

There is a long history of agricultural interest groups in the United States. An example is the American Farm Bureau Federation which was founded in 1911. As a result of the majority of the country’s rural history, agricultural concerns have long been of great importance. Specifically, the vision of the yeoman farmer was one of the important American archetypes moving into the progressive era.

Today, agricultural interest groups are often divided among themselves. There are various types of farms and farmers in the U.S. that often have conflicting interests. For example, a policy that is beneficial to large scale agribusiness might be highly damaging for small, family farms.

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Farmers Market: Small farmers are just one part of the larger group of farmers involved in agricultural interest groups.

Agricultural interest groups range from large agribusiness, to groups such as the Farm Bureau representing mid-sized and commodity crop farmers, to the Farmers Market Coalition which advocates for policies that would benefit local farm production.

Organizations such as the Farmers Market Coalition represents a fairly new type of agricultural interest group. These are the groups advocating for policies that would support the renewal of small and local agriculture. One example are advocacy around the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program/Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. These programs provide fresh, locally produced fruits and vegetables for participants in other government nutritional subsidy programs. By sourcing local foods these programs also provide direct economic benefits for local farmers.

Environmental Interest Groups

Environmental interest groups are public-interest groups that advocate around conservation and ecological issues.

Learning Objectives

Identify the historical origins and purpose of environmental interest groups

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Environmental interest groups are generally public-interest groups, as their work benefits a wider community beyond their own active membership. They advocate for conservation and ecological issues.
  • There is a long history of conservation and early forms of environmentalism in the US. Some early conservationists were members of the transcendental movement which developed in the 1830s.
  • Today environmental interests groups are extremely varied, and while they all share some concern for conversation or the environment, many hold conflicting views.
  • Different types of environmental interest groups include conservation, environmental justice, ecology, and bright green environmentalism.

Key Terms

  • direct action: A form of political activism, in which participants act directly, ignoring established political procedures. This is often (but not always) accomplished by means of strikes, workplace occupations, sabotage, sit-ins, squatting, revolutionary/guerrilla warfare, demonstrations, vandalism, or graffiti.
  • greenwash: A false or misleading picture of environmental friendliness used to conceal or obscure damaging activities.
  • environmental racism: Environmental racism is inequality — in the form of racism linked with environmental factors and practices — that causes disproportionate distress on minority communities.

Environmental Interest Groups

Environmental interest groups are generally public-interest groups, as their work benefits a wider community beyond their own active membership. These groups advocate around conservation and ecological issues. Interest groups in general are groups represent people or organizations with common concerns and interests. These groups work to gain or retain benefits for their members, or to make general changes for the public good.

There is a long history of conservation and early forms of environmentalism in the US. Some early conservationists were members of the transcendental movement which developed in the 1830s, and represented a general rejection of the rise in urbanization in the US. They advocated for meaningful and consistent interactions with nature, often employing poetic language to describe their ideals for a human environmental relationship. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were both part of this movement.

Today environmental interests groups are extremely varied, and while they all share some concern for conversation or the environment, many hold conflicting views about levels of conservation versus for example stewardship, and about appropriate strategies for pursuing their interests.

Some of the different types of environmentalism include the conservation movement, mostly focused on preserving land for sustainable use; the environmental justice movement that developed as a reaction to environmental racism in the US and particular in urban areas; the ecology movement, focused on human relationships and responsibilities to the environment; and bright green environmentalism, which looks at technological and design solutions to environmental question.

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Love Canal: This 1978 protest at Love Canal was one of the early events in the environmental justice movement.

Each of these groups will use different strategies including scientific research, and public education as well as lobbying and litigation. Environmental groups are also known for their use of *direct action* techniques. These actions range from the work of Greenpeace in disrupting nuclear tests, or whaling to removing genetically modified crops to groups such as the Earth Liberation Front who take a more radical approach and regularly conduct destructive actions as a part of their work.

There are criticisms of environmental interest group including the concern that not all of their claims are scientifically sound, and the complaint that environmental actions or regulations will disrupt business.

On the other hand some business groups have also taken up environmental causes, with business practices and promotion geared towards members and supporters of environmental interests. However other businesses have started to greenwash their products, leading environmental and consumer interest groups to pressure governments to regulate environmental product claims.

Consumer Interest Groups

Consumer Interest Groups advocate for consumer rights and information.

Learning Objectives

Classify consumer interest groups and their influence in policy-making

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Consumer Interest Groups can be considered public- interest groups because they focus on the issues and interests of consumers rather than providing exclusive economic benefits to a closed set of members.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Union, who publishes the Consumer Reports, are two examples of consumer groups concerned with a broad range of consumer goods.
  • These groups focus on a number of different issues including product safety, price issues and consumer notification.
  • Consumer Interest Groups employ a variety of strategies– from lobbying to public campaigns.
  • They also provide important checks and balances to business interests, make market exchanges more transparent, and help consumers make more informed choices.

Key Terms

  • arbitration: A process through which two or more parties use an arbitrator or arbiter (an impartial third party) in order to resolve a dispute.

Consumer Interest Groups

Interest groups represent people or organizations with common concerns and interests. These groups work to gain or retain benefits for their members, or to make general changes for the public good. Consumer Interest Groups focus on the issues and interests of consumers.

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Consumers: Consumer Interest Groups represent, protect, and inform consumers.

Consumer Interest Groups can be considered public-interest groups since their work benefits consumers rather than providing exclusive economic benefits to a closed set of members.

These groups focus on a number of different issues that include product safety, price issues, and consumer notification. They employ a variety of strategies– from lobbying to public campaigns. In these ways Consumer Interest Groups protect and represent consumers. They also provide important checks and balances to business interests, make market exchanges more transparent, and help consumers make more informed choices.

Two examples of consumer groups concerned with a broad range of consumer goods are the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Union, who publishes the Consumer Reports. The BBB works to advance marketplace trust by publishing business reviews and providing a dispute resolution process. This process allows consumers with conflicts or complaints regarding a particular business receive arbitration through the BBB. Consumer Reports is known for its rigorous product testing including side-by-side comparison of similar products. Consumer Reports also continues to do lobbying work around issues such as telecommunications and mass media, health care, and product safety.

Consumer Interest Groups can also be single-issue interests groups. In a very different vein from the example above, the British Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is one of the oldest and largest single-issue consumer interest groups in the UK. They work to promote quality, choice, and value. They support small pubs with a community focus, promote traditional beers and ciders, and seek to improve licensing permits.

Ideological Interest Groups

Ideological interest groups unite on issues, with their work driven by deeply held beliefs.

Learning Objectives

Describe ideological interest groups and their role in the policy-making process

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Interest groups represent people or organizations who have common concerns and interests.
  • Ideological interest groups might work on various different issues, but their work is driven by deeply held beliefs.
  • The ideology of any given group can range from regressive or conservative, to liberal or libertarian, or to progressive or radical.
  • These types of interest groups use a variety of strategies including education, representation, participation, and advocacy that includes lobbying and litigation.

Key Terms

  • ideology: Doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group.

Ideological Interest Groups

Interest groups represent people or organizations with common concerns and interests. These groups work to gain or retain benefits for their members, or to make general changes they perceive to be for the public good. Interest groups work through advocacy, public campaigns, and even directly lobbying governments to change public policy. There are a wide range of ideological interest groups that represent many different constituencies.

Types of Ideological Interest Groups

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Leaders of NOW: National Organization for Women (NOW) founder and president Betty Friedan; NOW co-chair and Washington, D.C., lobbyist Barbara Ireton; and feminist attorney Marguerite Rawalt.Ideological interest groups often work on a variety of specific issues, with their work driven by deeply held beliefs. The ideology, or collective beliefs, of any given group might range from regressive or conservative, to liberal or libertarian, or to progressive or radical.

Some examples of ideological interest groups include the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Taxpayers Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Christian Coalition. Each organization has an ideological point of view that determines which specific issues or campaigns they get involved in and which side of an issue they take. Additionally, these organizations use a variety of strategies including public education, representation, member participation, and advocacy with governments that includes lobbying and litigation.

NOW is an example of an ideological interest group. It is a liberal feminist organization, and its main mission is advocating for equality and full societal participation for women. However, NOW also works on a number of other issues. The current priorities for NOW include constitutional equality, violence against women, diversity/racism, abortion rights/reproductive issues, lesbian rights, and economic justice.

On the other hand, the Christian Coalition favors a conservative Christian ideology. The stated goal of the organization is to represent Christians who support a traditional family point of view.The group works on a variety of more specific issues such as disputing abortion, improving traditional education, and lowering taxes.

Some groups fall between being single issue groups or ideological interest groups. Examples include the National Rifle Association (NRA), a gun rights advocacy group, or AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), an LGBTQ group advocating around AIDS research and health. While both focus on one main unifying issue, their advocacy work is also driven by larger ideological concerns.

Public Interest Groups

Public interest groups advocate for what they consider to be the public good.

Learning Objectives

Illustrate how interest groups work for the public interest

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Interest groups represent people or organizations with common concerns and interests.
  • Public interest groups work on issues that impact the general public, rather than a small group of members.
  • One of the challenges that public interest groups face is the difficulty in defining a single idea of the public good in a pluralist society.
  • One of the challenges, or criticisms of public interest groups is the difficulty in defining a single idea of the public good in a pluralist society.

Key Terms

  • pluralism: A social system based on mutual respect for each other’s cultures among various groups that make up a society, wherein subordinate groups do not have to forsake their lifestyle and traditions and can express their culture and participate in the larger society free of prejudice.
  • free rider: One who obtains benefit from a public good without paying for it directly.
  • public interest group: a group concerned with the common well-being or general welfare of the population

Public Interest Groups

Interest groups represent people or organizations with common concerns and interests. These groups work to gain or retain benefits for their members, or to make general changes for the public good. Interest groups work through advocacy, public campaigns, and even lobbying governments to make changes in public policy. There are a wide variety of interest groups representing a variety of constituencies. For example, public interest groups work on issues that impact the general public, rather than a select group of members. These groups advocate for their ideals of general good, or common well-being. Some of the issues a public interest group might address include health, the environment, and the political system.

One of the challenges, or criticisms, of public interest groups is the difficulty in defining a single idea of the public good in a society that values pluralism, such as the United States. Because of this difficulty, even when there is consensus around the good of a broad topic, the work of a single public interest group might still be controversial.

An example is in education where most agree that education is a public good, but there are strong disagreements over how to achieve that, or over what sort of education would be best. Groups like the National Education Association, a teachers union and general public interest group, might still be seen by some as primarily promoting teachers’ rights. While a program such as the charter school program might be seen as weakening public schools.

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Public interest groups: Public interest groups advocate for issues that impact the general public, such as education.

Another challenge for public-interest groups is the so-called free rider effect. Because the benefits brought about by public interest groups benefit a large group of individuals, there is less direct incentive for people to become involved in an organization’s work since they will still gain from the work even if they remain inactive.

Single-Issue Interest Groups

Single-issue interest groups focus on advocacy around a single defining issue.

Learning Objectives

Give examples of single-issue interest groups

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Interest groups use various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and/or policy.
  • Single-issue interest groups focus on advocacy around a single defining issue.
  • These groups focus on a diverse array of issues including abortion, taxation, and animal rights.
  • Because of their singular focus, these groups are known for the intensity of their lobbying.
  • The National Riffle Associate (NRA) is arguably the best known, and most influential single-issue interest group in the United States.

Key Terms

  • issue network: an alliance of various interest groups and individuals who unite in order to promote a single concern in government policy
  • constituencies: interest groups or fan bases
  • lobbying: Lobbying (also lobby) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies.

Single-Issue Interest Groups

Interest groups use various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and/or policy. Interest groups work through advocacy, public campaigns, and even lobbying governments to make changes in public policy. There are a wide variety of interest groups representing a variety of constituencies.

As the name suggests, these are groups that focus all of their energy on a single defining issue. Their membership is often quite devoted to the issue, and motivated by personal experiences or to participation in ongoing social movements. There are a growing number of single-issue interest groups in the US. These groups focus on a diverse array of issues including abortion, taxation, and animal rights. Because of their singular focus these groups are known for the intensity of their lobbying.

An example of a single-issue interest group is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which was formed by a mother whose teenaged daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The organization now lobbies heavily to stop drunk driving as well as supporting the victims of drunk driving and preventing underage drinking.

Another example is the National Riffle Associate (NRA, ), which is also, arguably, the best known and most influential single-issue interest group on the United States. The NRA lobbies in favor of the right of individuals to own and use fire arms. It also lobbies against any laws that its members and leadership see as abridging this right or invading the privacy of gun owners. The NRA spent $10 million dollars campaigning during the 2008 presidential election. Some see this as proof that the NRA has too much influence in government, while others would simple describe it as evidence of the broad support for the organization. However you interpret the actions of the NRA, they have been successful in their efforts, since the United States has the least restrictive gun laws of any country in the Global North.

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National Rifle Association (NRA) Headquarters: The NRA is one of the best known, and arguably the most influential single-issue interest group in the US.

Governmental Interest Groups

Government interest groups are a unique type of interest group that represents the interests of government to other governments.

Learning Objectives

Give examples of government interest groups and their influence on policy

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Government interest groups are a unique form of interest groups that represent the interests of government to other governments.
  • City and state governments, for example might lobby in Washington to pursue their goals and gain benefits.
  • As with other interest groups many government interest groups also conduct work in public education and media campaigns in addition to their direct advocacy work.
  • Foreign governments may also send representatives to make their case with Congress and the executive branch.

Key Terms

  • New Federalism: New Federalism is a political philosophy of devolution, or the transfer of certain powers from the United States federal government back to the states.
  • lobby: To attempt to influence (a public official or decision-maker) in favor of a specific opinion or cause.
  • New Deal: The New Deal was a series of economic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They involved presidential executive orders or laws passed by Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.

Government Interest Groups

Government interest groups are a unique form of interest groups that represent the interests of government to other governments. City and state governments, for example, might lobby in Washington to pursue their goals and gain benefits. In many cases local governments are seeking more funding to carry out their work and responsibilities. This support often comes in the form of federal grants. At other times local governments may advocate for increased direct decision making powers, and control over new policy areas.

As with other interest groups many government interest groups also conduct work in public education and media campaigns in addition to their direct advocacy work.

US Government Interest Groups

The practice of local governments lobbying the federal government started with the New Deal during which an attempt was made to organize the distribution of funds and programs during that period. Since then local governments have continued their efforts. Major gains were made in the 1960s and 1970s, especially around social program funding.

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New Deal Programs: These women are learning new skills in a Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) program in Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. FERA was part of the New Deal federal funding to state and local governments.

However, and particularly with President Reagan’s move towards what was known as New Federalism, there has been a move to shrink the size of the federal government and also federal grants. States and cities are now stuck between wanting continued support for their work, and wanting to be free of federal regulations.

Some government interest groups in the US include the National League of Cities, the National Conference of Mayors, and the National Governors Association.

The International Lobby

Additionally, foreign governments may send representatives to make their case with Congress and the executive branch. Again, the support they seek might be direct finding through aid, but might also involve economic arrangements such as trade deals including free trade arrangements or reduction of US tariffs.