Talk:Interest group

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 Definition In the United States, an organization (usually non-profit) that represents its members' interests by lobbying, publishing, or other activities, and may publish information presented as expert analysis. [d] [e]
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This is mostly the CZ template now

Is my memory going, or wasn't there text on interest groups in general? --Howard C. Berkowitz 17:54, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

I thought so too, but its gone now. All I did was remove that really tacky Microsoft infobox (I suppose the pretext was supposed to be that Microsoft is an interest group?) and the obsolete Eduzendium notice which expired back in December. What is left is clearly somebody's questions for a group of students, and I have been trying to figure out if there is some subpage where this might be safely tucked away so that we can get some actual content on interest groups going here. Roger Lohmann 01:06, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
EZ, I meant.
While I haven't defined the term "interest group" proper, I've been creating a substantial amount of information about interest groups, and, through Related Articles, their relationships — both at the level of organizations and of individuals. There are quite a few groups that may only have a few paragraphs of article, but very large numbers of links in the subpage. Eventually, I'd hope we have some semantic or database tools for exploring the connections. For this article, a catalog structure might be most appropriate. --Howard C. Berkowitz 01:50, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Then your links should definitely go on the Related Articles page, but the main article here will be more than a catalog of links or list of organizations. There is a very substantial literature dating back for many decades in political science that needs to be summarized and synthesized under this heading. Possible topics include the group basis of politics; interest groups as political actors; interest groups as both shapers and products of public opinion; interest-group liberalism, and more. Roger Lohmann 13:29, 1 February 2010 (UTC)


While I do plan to write some material about defining characteristics, there are interesting questions on when an interest group is both that and a think tank, quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization, shadow government (e.g., in a very operational sense such as Hezbollah), or a political party. In many cases, a group is more than one.

It would probably be good to put sections on interest groups in each of those articles. There are certainly ample examples, as you note. We will probably need some pretty hard-shell political scientists to distinguish interest groups from political parties in the present. I think the original differentiation in the U.S. (where the concept originated?) was partly one of duration (as interests were perceived to shift and broad, mass political parties merely adjusted) and partly one of focus (interest groups being perceived as single-issue entities). With the rise of QUANGOS, the Fox News party, think tanks such as AEI and assorted activist foundations (some responding to what they saw as activism by the more traditional foundation world) the whole ground for this topic has shifted

In the think tank article, there is literature supporting some differentiators, but I'm simply not convinced a group is either devoted to policy research or influence. Further complicating this, especially in U.S. tax law, is an education or research organization, still certainly for an interest, carefully maintains its (501(c)(3)) status but creates a (501(c)(4)) or even (527) subsidiary for direct political operations. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:05, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

As you note, the issue of tax exemption also enters into this matter in a big way, and the court ruling in January in the Citizens United case certain roiled those waters for some time to come. Roger Lohmann 15:34, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Citizens United, which does deserve its own article, is one component in the US; I did write brief articles on the 501s but not 527s, and it would help to have the equivalents outside the US. If I remember the German term, their "democracy foundations", sponsored by unions but having significant roles in democracy promotion worldwide, don't neatly fit into this model. Perhaps some of our Europeans can join in here; I'm not sure that the concept may not have developed in Germany or Britain.
In the US, I would not be at all surprised to see some tax issues raised, variously, over Focus on the Family spending between $2.5 and 3 million on a Super Bowl ad, and also the amount of funds accumulated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As an aside, I've been trying, and failing, to think of an article title for "charitable" groups that have huge amounts of fundraising, but whose appeals feature minimal threats. The Anti-Defamation League, for example, has not purged its "extremist" list of scary organizations and people that are dead. Interest groups can be big business; it's one thing when they are a minimal-overhead charity and another thing when they have senior executives with compensation in the hundreds of thousands.
Of course, things like the Tea Party Movement have some of the attributes, but are certainly not tightly organized groups. -- Howard C. Berkowitz 18:11, 1 February 2010 (UTC)