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11.1 Types of Interest Groups

The interest groups are organized on various bases, since the spectrum of pressure politics is very broad. The range of interest groups includes organizations based on business, labor agriculture, and professions such as law, medicine and education. There are also regional, racial, religious and nationality groups. Most of the Americans belong to at least one big occupational association.

Exhibit 11.1
Types of Interest Groups

The Encyclopedia of Associations lists at least twenty-three thousand entries and a majority of these can be called interest groups. Most of these are based in Washington so that they are not far from the legislatures. They can be broadly classified.

11.1a Economic Interest Groups

The strongest and most effective interest groups are those based on economic interest. Thus businessmenís unions are varied and numerous. The Chamber of Commerce of the United States is the main general agency for business. It was organized in 1912, and is composed of several thousand local chambers of commerce representing tons of thousands of business firms, selling varied products and services. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is loosely allied with the chamber on most issues.

Strong unions have been organized by professionals as well. The well-known ones are the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Bar Association, which include a large number of state and local societies. Some interest groups are further divided into many sub groups. For example, teachers are organized in the National Education Association, in the American Association of University Professors, as also in subject group like the Modern Language Association.

11.1b Public Interest Groups

In general public interest groups do not secure any financial benefits from the policies pursued by them. This category includes several such groups like the consumer advocacy groups and environmental organization, like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). There are varied and colorful women interest groups such as the League of Women voters. It works towards the promotion of simplified voting procedures and an informed electorate. The Daughters of the American Revolution also takes up political and social issues. Common Cause is another association, in favor of campaign finance reform. This particular group also criticizes other interest groups that offer excessive campaign contributions.

11.1c Government Interest Groups

The federal system gives rise to several organizations that attempt to bring important issues of local and state government before the Congress and the administration. The National League of Cities, the National Conference of Mayors, and the National Governors Association are examples of government interest groups. 


11.0 - Introduction
11.1 Types of Interest Groups
11.2 The Functions of Interest Groups
11.3 The Tactics of Interest Groups
11.4 The Mass Media and Political Coverage

Chapter 12

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