The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups

Brookings Institution Press
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If you think liberalism is dead, think again. In this sure-to-be-controversial book, Jeffrey M. Berry argues that modern liberalism is not only still alive, it's actually thriving. Today's new liberalism has evolved from a traditional emphasis on bread-and-butter economic issues to a form he calls "postmaterialism"--quality-of-life concerns such as enhancing the environment, protecting consumers, or promoting civil rights. Berry credits the new liberalism's success to the rise of liberal citizen lobbying groups. By analyzing the activities of Congress during three sessions (1963, 1979, and 1991), he demonstrates the correlation between the increasing lobbying activities of citizen groups and a dramatic shift in the American political agenda from an early 1960s emphasis on economic equality to today's postmaterialist issues. Although conservative groups also began to emphasize postmaterial concerns--such as abortion and other family value issues--Berry finds that liberal citizen groups have been considerably more effective than conservative ones at getting their goals onto the congressional agenda and enacted into legislation. The book provides many examples of citizen group issues that Congress enacted into law, successes when citizen groups were in direct conflict with business interests and when demands were made on behalf of traditionally marginalized constituencies, such as the women's and civil rights movements. Berry concludes that although liberal citizen groups make up only a small portion of the thousands of lobbying organizations in Washington, they have been, and will continue to be, a major force in shaping the political landscape.
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About the author

Jeffrey M. Berry is John Richard Skuse Class of 1941 Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. His most recent book, The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups (Brookings, 1999) won the Policy Studies Organization's 1999 best book award.

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Additional Information

Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Dec 1, 2010
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Political Science / American Government / Legislative Branch
Political Science / Civics & Citizenship
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A generation ago, scholars saw interest groups as the single most important element in the American political system. Today, political scientists are more likely to see groups as a marginal influence compared to institutions such as Congress, the presidency, and the judiciary. Frank Baumgartner and Beth Leech show that scholars have veered from one extreme to another not because of changes in the political system, but because of changes in political science. They review hundreds of books and articles about interest groups from the 1940s to today; examine the methodological and conceptual problems that have beset the field; and suggest research strategies to return interest-group studies to a position of greater relevance.

The authors begin by explaining how the group approach to politics became dominant forty years ago in reaction to the constitutional-legal approach that preceded it. They show how it fell into decline in the 1970s as scholars ignored the impact of groups on government to focus on more quantifiable but narrower subjects, such as collective-action dilemmas and the dynamics of recruitment. As a result, despite intense research activity, we still know very little about how groups influence day-to-day governing. Baumgartner and Leech argue that scholars need to develop a more coherent set of research questions, focus on large-scale studies, and pay more attention to the context of group behavior. Their book will give new impetus and direction to a field that has been in the academic wilderness too long.


“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.
In early 2012, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who advocated for insurance coverage of contraceptives, "wants to be paid to have sex." Over the next few days, Limbaugh attacked Fluke personally, often in crude terms, while a powerful backlash grew, led by organizations such as the National Organization for Women. But perhaps what was most notable about the incident was that it wasn't unusual. From Limbaugh's venomous attacks on Fluke to liberal radio host Mike Malloy's suggestion that Bill O'Reilly "drink a vat of poison... and choke to death," over-the-top discourse in today's political opinion media is pervasive. Anyone who observes the skyrocketing number of incendiary political opinion shows on television and radio might conclude that political vitriol on the airwaves is fueled by the increasingly partisan American political system. But in The Outrage Industry Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj show how the proliferation of outrage-the provocative, hyperbolic style of commentary delivered by hosts like Ed Schultz, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity- says more about regulatory, technological, and cultural changes, than it does about our political inclinations. Berry and Sobieraj tackle the mechanics of outrage rhetoric, exploring its various forms such as mockery, emotional display, fear mongering, audience flattery, and conspiracy theories. They then investigate the impact of outrage rhetoric-which stigmatizes cooperation and brands collaboration and compromise as weak-on a contemporary political landscape that features frequent straight-party voting in Congress. Outrage tactics have also facilitated the growth of the Tea Party, a movement which appeals to older, white conservatives and has dragged the GOP farther away from the demographically significant moderates whose favor it should be courting. Finally, The Outrage Industry examines how these shows sour our own political lives, exacerbating anxieties about political talk and collaboration in our own communities. Drawing from a rich base of evidence, this book forces all of us to consider the negative consequences that flow from our increasingly hyper-partisan political media.
The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups is a major new volume that will help scholars assess the current state of scholarship on parties and interest groups and the directions in which it needs to move. Never before has the academic literature on political parties received such an extended treatment. Twenty nine chapters critically assess both the major contributions to the literature and the ways in which it has developed. With contributions from most of the leading scholars in the field, the volume provides a definitive point of reference for all those working in and around the area. Equally important, the authors also identify areas of new and interesting research. These chapters offer a distinctive point of view, an argument about the successes and failures of past scholarship, and a set of recommendations about how future work ought to develop. This volume will help set the agenda for research on political parties and interest groups for the next decade. The Oxford Handbooks of American Politics are a set of reference books offering authoritative and engaging critical overviews of the state of scholarship on American politics. Each volume focuses on a particular aspect of the field. The project is under the General Editorship of George C. Edwards III, and distinguished specialists in their respective fields edit each volume. The Handbooks aim not just to report on the discipline, but also to shape it as scholars critically assess the scholarship on a topic and propose directions in which it needs to move. The series is an indispensable reference for anyone working in American politics. General Editor for The Oxford Handbooks of American Politics: George C. Edwards III
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