Any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect opinion or policy of the policy makers or target group to benefit themselves or their causes. Their goal could be a policy that exclusively benefits group members. They attempt to achieve their goals by lobbying—that is, by attempting to bring pressure to bear on policy makers to gain policy outcomes in their favour. Interest groups are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interest that exist in all societies. Politics and interests are inseparable. The common goals and sources of interest groups vary widely in their form and lobbying strategies both within and across the globe. This article provides a broad overview that explains the role that interest groups play in society. An interest group is usually a formally organized association that seeks to influence public policy through lobbying. The most important lobbying forces in any society are the various entities of government. Some interest groups consist of individuals such as ranchers or fruit growers who may form farm commodity organizations. In other instances, an interest group consists not of individuals but of organizations or businesses, such as the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour) in Israel and the Andean-Amazon Working Group, which includes environmental and indigenous organizations in several South American countries. These types of organizations are called peak associations, as they are, in effect, the major groups in their area of interest in a country. Types of interests and interest groups
Interests groups in all types of political systems can be placed broadly in five categories: economic interests, cause groups, public interests, private and public institutional interests, and non-associational groups and interests. Economic interest groups are ubiquitous and the most prominent in all countries. There are literally thousands of them with offices in national capitals from London to Ottawa to New Delhi to Canberra. There are several different kinds of economic interests: business groups (e.g., the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Confederation of British Industry, and the Nestlé Corporation, headquartered in Switzerland and with operations throughout the world), labour groups (e.g., IG Metall in Germany, the Trades Union Congress in the United Kingdom, and the AFL–CIO in the United States), farm groups (e.g., the Irish Farmers' Association in the republic of Ireland and the American Farm Bureau Federation), and professional groups (e.g., the American Bar Association and the Czech Chamber of Doctors). Whereas economic interests and most cause groups benefit a narrow constituency, public interest groups promote issues of general public concern (e.g., environmental protection, human rights, and consumer rights). Many public interest groups operate in a single country (e.g., the Federal Association of Citizen-Action Groups for Environmental Protection in Germany). Others, such as the Sierra Club, which has chapters in the United States and Canada, may operate in only a few countries. Increasingly, however, many public interest groups have a much broader international presence, with activities in many countries (e.g., Amnesty International and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines). Private and public institutional interests constitute another important category. These are not membership groups (hence, they are termed interests as opposed to interest groups) but private organizations such as businesses or public entities such as government departments. However, similar to interest groups, they attempt to affect public policy in their favour. Private institutional interests include think tanks such as the Brookings Institution in the United States and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document