Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science

Princeton University Press
Free sample

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.

Read more

About the author

Frank R. Baumgartner is Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Conflict and Rhetoric in French Policymaking and coauthor (with Bryan Jones) of Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Beth L. Leech is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Texas A&M.
Read more

Reviews

Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
Read more
Published on
Mar 23, 1998
Read more
Pages
248
Read more
ISBN
9781400822485
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
Beth L. Leech
"Lobbyists at Work is a must-read for anyone interested in the serious business of government. Leech's probing questions reflect her years of research tracking the real impact of money and influence on policy." —Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr. (Chairman, Patton Boggs LLP)

Received wisdom has it that lobbyists run the American government on behalf of moneyed interests. But what makes lobbyists run, and how do they induce legislators and bureaucrats to do their bidding? These are questions for which even the harshest critics lack satisfying answers. Lobbyists at Work explores what lobbyists really do and why. It goes behind the scenes and brings back in-depth interviews with fifteen political advocates chosen to represent the breadth and diversity of the lobbying profession.

The interviewees profiled in this book range from the top lobbyists-for-hire at the most powerful K Street firms to pro bono lobbyists for the disenfranchised and powerless. The roster spans all types of lobbyists working for all types of clients and seeking to influence all levels and branches of government. The permutations include business-lobbying-government, government-lobbying-government, government-to-business revolving door, regulatory lobbying, state and local lobbying, citizen-advocacy lobbying,single-issue lobbying, and multiple-issue lobbying. In colorful and sometimes hilarious detail, the interviewees take the reader through their arsenals of traditional and next-generation lobbying techniques, including face-to-face persuasion of elected officials and their staffs, educational campaigns and coalition-building, ghost-drafting complex legislation and regulation for government committees and agencies, contributions, and social media campaigns.

In Lobbyists at Work, the normally self-effacing subjects open up about themselves and their profession: why they chose to become lobbyists, what motivates them to keep lobbying, how they cultivate their lobbying influence, how they adjust to changes in the rules affecting their lobbying methods, and what they actually do at work each day (and night). As an authority on lobbying respected in Washington for her impartiality, Professor Beth Leech elicits frank disclosures, career tips, and riveting stories about the good, the bad, and the ambivalent on both sides of the symbiotic relationship between government officials and lobbyists.

Lee Cronk
From the family to the workplace to the marketplace, every facet of our lives is shaped by cooperative interactions. Yet everywhere we look, we are confronted by proof of how difficult cooperation can be--snarled traffic, polarized politics, overexploited resources, social problems that go ignored. The benefits to oneself of a free ride on the efforts of others mean that collective goals often are not met. But compared to most other species, people actually cooperate a great deal. Why is this?

Meeting at Grand Central brings together insights from evolutionary biology, political science, economics, anthropology, and other fields to explain how the interactions between our evolved selves and the institutional structures we have created make cooperation possible. The book begins with a look at the ideas of Mancur Olson and George Williams, who shifted the question of why cooperation happens from an emphasis on group benefits to individual costs. It then explores how these ideas have influenced our thinking about cooperation, coordination, and collective action. The book persuasively argues that cooperation and its failures are best explained by evolutionary and social theories working together. Selection sometimes favors cooperative tendencies, while institutions, norms, and incentives encourage and make possible actual cooperation.

Meeting at Grand Central will inspire researchers from different disciplines and intellectual traditions to share ideas and advance our understanding of cooperative behavior in a world that is more complex than ever before.

Frank R. Baumgartner
How does the government decide what’s a problem and what isn’t? And what are the consequences of that process? Like individuals, Congress is subject to the “paradox of search.” If policy makers don’t look for problems, they won’t find those that need to be addressed. But if they carry out a thorough search, they will almost certainly find new problems—and with the definition of each new problem comes the possibility of creating a government program to address it.

With The Politics of Attention, leading policy scholars Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones demonstrated the central role attention plays in how governments prioritize problems. Now, with The Politics of Information, they turn the focus to the problem-detection process itself, showing how the growth or contraction of government is closely related to how it searches for information and how, as an organization, it analyzes its findings. Better search processes that incorporate more diverse viewpoints lead to more intensive policymaking activity. Similarly, limiting search processes leads to declines in policy making. At the same time, the authors find little evidence that the factors usually thought to be responsible for government expansion—partisan control, changes in presidential leadership, and shifts in public opinion—can be systematically related to the patterns they observe.

Drawing on data tracing the course of American public policy since World War II, Baumgartner and Jones once again deepen our understanding of the dynamics of American policy making.
©2017 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.