Also referred to as advocacy groups, lobby groups, pressure groups, campaign groups or special interest groups, there is a lot of questions surrounding interest groups. Generally, they use different forms of advocacy, where they could influence the public opinion or policies and play a significant role in developing both political and social systems. Also, they diverge in influences, motives and sizes, where some of them come with wide-ranging terms in their social purposes, while others usually focus on and always respond to the issues that are experienced by many people.
Because of the helpful benefits that they provide not only to a certain region, but also to the people who are living there, the presence of interest groups is definitely a great idea. Most of the time, these groups are looking for several purposes to perform actions from shared political, commercial, religious and moral positions, using various methodologies in order to make their plans a success, such as having a very successful policy briefing, poll, media campaign, research, lobbying, research and even a publicity stunt. They manage to achieve this with the support of their political influences, powerful businesses and other resources available to them.
While there are real benefits from interest groups, there are also drawbacks that come with them. Let us take a look at their pros and cons to come up with a knowledgeable decision whether they are more useful to society than not.
List of Pros of Interest Groups
1. They use a democratic process.
Interest groups contribute a helpful democratic process to protect certain individuals as alternative in daunting the majority. Because of this, many people have the freedom to express and speak their suggestions and opinions.
2. They check the power of majorities.
In the US political system, there exist the principles of democracy, which include the majority rule, but there is also the protection of rights of people who do not belong to the majority. Interest groups, such as those based on gender, ethnic and religious identities, can perform important checks on the powers of the majority.
3. They have the ability to motivate legislators.
These groups can easily motivate legislators in promulgating their beliefs optimistically.
4. They allow for better representation of interests.
Members of interest groups and other social movements believe that they should better advance their causes and interests, whether it is protecting civil rights, voting rights and the environment, by uniting themselves for collective action. By doing so, they demonstrate strength in numbers when it comes to politics.
5. They provide positive solutions.
With their skills and knowledge, these groups can easily provide positive solutions to situational problems faced by political departments, such as the Senate.
6. They serve as an avenue for political involvement.
Social interest groups, such as women’s rights groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) and civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serve as an avenue for political involvement and actions for many people. Providing information to their members, these groups are up-to-date with the political issues that might affect them. Moreover, involvement in these groups can result in a more active and informed citizenry, as well as even make people land into successful political careers.
7. They ensure an outspread dispersal of expenses.
These groups and other social movements seek protection and benefits from the government through activities, like marches, petitions and professional lobbying, of which costs are borne by members in question and by society in general. For instance, social interest groups’ actions to raise funds for anti-poverty programs can provide increased aid and other benefits to low-income families and individuals on whose behalf the groups speak. Fortunately, the costs of these programs are dispersed across the society, which minimizes the burden borne by any single individual.
List of Cons of Interest Groups
1. They would often seek for the minority of people.
Interest groups lead to pluralism, which critics contend that there is no common good, as there are many conflicting interests in society. What is good for one individual can be bad for other people. Critics also argue that interest groups would interfere with democracy, as they seek out benefits for minorities rather than the greater good of the majority. For example, the National Rifle Association has repeatedly blocked gun-control legislations, despite the fact that most citizens in the US actually want stricter laws on firearms.
2. They only have one track in mind.
As interest groups usually have a single track in mind, they would only think about and look at their personal opinions, and not at those of the majority.
3. They are only effective for themselves.
Another big argument by critics about these groups is that their system can really be effective only for economic interest groups, which normally have greater financial resources at their disposal. It is also believed that these groups would ignore the interests of the poor in favor of the middle and upper-class, who have more money and time to contribute.
4. They would commit serious crimes.
According to past news, there are interest groups that have committed serious crimes, such as corruption, bribery, fraud, etc. There are even those who were involved in some cases and accused of giving threats to domestic social orders and extremists.
5. They lead to “hyperpluralism.”
Some scholars argue that these groups have been very successful and use the term “hyperpluralism” in order to describe a political system that caters only to interest groups and not the people. Too many interest groups have led to demosclerosis, which is the inability of the government to accomplish anything substantial. Critics contend that the government cannot make serious changes, even if they are needed, as competing interest groups hinder it from effectively governing the country.
Based on the pros and cons listed above, interest groups can provide a lot of benefits, but they can also come with drawbacks that cause them to experience serious issues, where many people were shocked to be found guilty in crimes they committed. This is a big reason why most people whom they had helped got disappointed with them.
With the information provided by this article, we can reach a well-informed idea of the things interest groups can bring to our society.