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Chapter 1. Groups and Individuals, Class notes

by: Joseph Lucas

Chapter 1. Groups and Individuals, Class notes POLI 368 E01

Marketplace > University of South Carolina > Political Science > POLI 368 E01 > Chapter 1 Groups and Individuals Class notes
Joseph Lucas
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These notes are in part supplemented from the Chapter 1 Reading and the notes taken in class on Jan. 13th, 2016
Interest Groups and Social Movements
Terry Kimel
Class Notes




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Joseph Lucas on Tuesday January 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 368 E01 at University of South Carolina taught by Terry Kimel in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Interest Groups and Social Movements in Political Science at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 01/12/16
Joseph Lucas-POLI 368 E01- WEEK 1 Notes Chap. 1: Groups and the Changing Nature of Political Science (Supplemented from the Reading) What is Institutionalism?  The study of mandated governmental systems. Prior to the 1800s, there was not a  department at universities devoted to political science or analysis, but government. This  study was based more on historical events rather than systematic understanding. o “Scientific activity is not indiscriminate amassing…” What is/are the important links between interest groups and pluralism?  Early scholars began studying the relation of interest groups on the government and  pluralism around the 1940s and 50s. The study of people and groups and their bargaining  with the gov’t became the focus of many and a greater understanding of the governmental process.  Pluralism, by many, was believed to allow “a coalition of people to provide calibrated  political input”.  Critics disputed prescriptive pluralism. What are some key points that the Critics of Pluralism talked about?  Deliberations and bargains in pluralism were really quite limited. Everyone was not  included and some deliberations included minor issues.   Fundamental issues were not addressed   Avoiding fundamental concerns about the nature and structure of government.  E.E. Schattschnieder argued pluralism is opinionated by the upper class. o Absence of a operating theory that can be founded on key principles o Conflict (amongst the strong vs. weak) What is the Formal Theory?  A concept that one can implement to avoid collecting random facts about an interest  group, a way for readers to organize and select key facts.  Strategic goal oriented behavior In Class Notes Outline: 1. Madison’s Dilemma a. Balancing the risks of faction against the benefits of freedom to organize 2. Interest groups and lobbying a. Role of interest groups 3. Collective Action Problems a. The tragedy of the commons Joseph Lucas-POLI 368 E01- WEEK 1 Notes 1. Free Society­ Madison’s Dilemma a. We have a free and open society b. Citizens have rights in that society c. In this framework, some segments of the population are likely to pursue their own selfish interests. i. Ex: Dairy Farmers who push for price subsidies even though it means  price of milk is higher at stores. ii. Oil interests seek tax breaks to stem the losses from recent reduction in oil  prices even as those tax breaks widen the deficit.  iii. Citizens will purse their own self­interest even when the policies they  advocate may hurt others or not be in the best interest of the nation as a  whole.  d. Big Question: How best to balance the needs and the powers of the interest  groups with what country as a whole needs? 2. II. Federalist no. 10 a. Deals specifically with the problems of the faction b. Madison argues the “causes of factions” are “sown in the nature of man” c. Warns that free people are likely to oppress each other than they are to “cooperate for there common good” d. Madison called restriction on freedom to organize worse than the disease e. Argues that the effects of factions should be controlled, rather than the factions  themselves. f. Madison proposes two ways: i. A system of checks and balances prevents domination by any faction ii. Large and disperse populations spurs a large number of competing faction, avoiding dominance by a single group.  g. Big Question: Can we strike a balance between the right of the people to pursue  their own interests and the need to protect society from being dominated by one or more interests?  h .    Interest Groups: Organized body of individuals who have some goal and try to  influence public policy.   i .     Lobbying: When an interest group attempts to influence policymakers in  government  3. Roles of Interest Groups: a. Interest groups act to represent their constituents before the government  b. For many people, interest groups are the important mechanisms by which the  views of the citizens are represented by the government. c. Also afford people the opportunity to participate in the political process. d. In American culture, participation is a virtue and apathy is a vice e. Elections are infrequent though, so voting may not be enough for some people f. Participation in interest groups, donations of money, and time gets people  involved. g. Educate the American people about political issues Joseph Lucas-POLI 368 E01- WEEK 1 Notes h. They can make people aware about what they see as policy problems as well as  their proposed solutions i. Interest groups engage in agenda building j. Bringing issues to light first  k. While there are many problems, governments aren’t considering them all the  time.  l. Agenda building by interest groups turns problems into issues, and issues into  policy questions. m. Finally interest groups do important work in program monitoring  n. Lobbyist closely follows programs affecting their constituents and will draw  attention to shortcoming through such tactics as issuing evaluation reports and  contacting people in media.  4. Collective Action Problem  a .     Collective Action Problem: a catchall phrase for the coordination and free­riding problems associated with collective action.  b .    Coordination problem: coordinating large groups of people. Frequently  volunteers, is difficult to do.  c .     Free­riding problem: a situation where individuals receive the benefits from  collective activity whether or not they helped to pay for it, leaving them with no  incentive to contribute. 5.   Tragedy of the Commons a.   A group of members overexploit a common resource, causing its destruction. 


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