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Interest groups are associations of individuals or organizations that form to advance a common political, economic, or social agenda for political or nonpolitical purposes. Interest groups include professional and occupational associations, business and trade associations, labor unions, farm organizations, religious organizations, education organizations, cause-oriented citizen groups and lobbies, legal foundations, think tanks, and public and private foundations. Some interest groups organize and represent members, perhaps even set standards of behavior, and provide information and training. Other groups go beyond those functions and act as pressure groups, advocating the interests of individual or corporate members before the various branches of government, through the use of various political tactics.

The political science discipline sees interest groups as crucial to democracies, especially to the political system in the ...

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