Interest Group (Political Science)

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  • An association of individuals or organizations that seek to advance a particular cause, usually through influencing public policy. An interest group tries to influence government without trying to form a government itself. An interest group may also be known as a political advocacy group, special-interest group, pressure group, or lobbyist group. Interest groups first appeared in the United States around 1830 through 1860 as social groups in the antislavery movement and business groups supporting railroad and oil company interests.

    Interest groups rely on a variety of methods to influence governmental policy. Their activities include lobbying, direct action such as protests, and financial contributions to campaigns through political action committee (PAC) money. In the United States, interest groups pay particular attention to influencing Congress, sometimes by producing ...

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