Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Interest groups are formal organizations, usually based on individual voluntary membership, that seek to influence public policies without assuming government responsibility. The majority of interest groups do not have primarily political goals. They are normally engaged in a disparate range of activities—work, recreational, philanthropic, humanitarian, and cultural—that develop independently in society. Such groups enter the political arena when they require some form of public intervention (financial, administrative, etc.) to support their interests or when they wish to influence the adoption or implementation of government decisions so as to secure some advantage or to protect the interests they represent. The goals of interest groups may be very specific or may be intended to make an impact on the entire political community. The strategies used to influence decision makers involve the combination of a repertoire of tactics, the breadth of which varies in relation to each group's organizational resources. In this entry, ...