Political Science 313
Public Power of Interest Groups

Course Syllabus
Winter 1998
TTh 9:30-10:45 a.m. in W009 BNSN

Instructor: Jay Goodliffe
Office: 750 SWKT
Phone: 378-9136
e-mail: jay_goodliffe@byu.edu


Office Hours
Course Objectives
Required Readings
Course Schedule

Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Tuesday afternoons 3:00-5:00. I will also be available most other times. In addition, you can reach me by phone and/or e-mail. I encourage you to come by for any reason whatsoever.

Course Objectives

This course is an introduction to interest groups and their role in American politics. It will consider ways to evaluate interest groups systematically and rigorously. The course will include: discussion of theories of interest group formation and maintenance, how interest groups attempt to influence public policy, and the systemic impact of interest groups.

Class attendance is not optional--if you need to miss class, please be prepared to explain why. The course will be run primarily as a lecture. However, I actively encourage questions, interruptions, cries for help, protests of disbelief, etc. You will never be penalized for participating--even when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why we are reading this stuff or why it was written in the first place!" I urge--indeed, I expect--you to take advantage of the chance to talk to with me during office hours.



There will be a one-minute quiz at the beginning of every class. The quiz will have one short-answer question relating to the main point(s) of the reading(s) for that day's class. If you have done the reading, the quiz should be easy. If you come late to class or miss class altogether, you cannot make up the quiz--you receive a zero. However, since everyone has difficulties at one time or another, I will drop the two lowest quizzes for the semester. The quizzes will count for 20% of your grade for the course.


There will be a midterm exam and a final exam. The midterm exam will be administered in the Testing Center (265 HGB) on February 26 and 27. The midterm will count for 20% of your grade for the course. The final exam will be administered in class on April 17 at 11:00 a.m. (as noted on the final exam schedule). The final will count for 35% of your grade for the course. I do not grade on a curve. Both exams will have some short-answer questions and essay questions.


Students will write a paper about a policy decision (that involved interest groups), or an interest group. If you write about a policy decision, be as specific as you can. Pick a well-defined policy event--some issue being considered in a public forum--that has interest group involvement (e.g., NAFTA, the S&L bailout, cable TV regulation, etc.). You need to know the policy proposals and interests involved. Where is the issue being decided? What are the incentives for the important actors? You will need to know details about some of the interest groups involved in order to make sense of their behavior.

If you write about an interest group, you need to isolate something interesting that happens and then find out as much as you can about it (e.g., turmoil in the NRA, rise (and fall?) of the Moral Majority, Teamsters, etc.). In particular, you want to have details about how the organization makes internal decisions, where it gets money, etc. You may want to call or write the organization directly for information.

Develop detailed factual knowledge--the idea is to become an expert in your specific area. In both types of papers, you should apply the theories we have discussed in class. Do the theories fit? Mere description of an event or group will receive a "C". An "A" paper will apply the theories we have discussed, point out strengths and shortcomings of the theory, suggest revisions of the theory based on the case studied, and integrate the case with the readings.

In order to facilitate work on the paper in a timely manner, students will turn in their topic/idea for the paper on January 27. On February 19, students will turn in an outline of the paper, as well as a list of the sources that you found in your research (thus far). Students will turn in a draft of their paper on March 10 for peer evaluation. (Students will evaluate a peer's paper, and return it on March 17.) The paper is due on March 24. The paper will count for 25% of your grade for the course.

The most important point about the paper is that it must be on time. I will not accept late papers. That said, I am a reasonable person; if you anticipate a problem with submitting an assignment when it is due, speak to me before the assignment is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement.

Required Readings

It is essential that you keep up with the reading. Indeed, I expect you to have completed reading assignments before the class in which we discuss it (thus, the quizzes). The exams draw directly on the required readings. Required texts for the course are available at the University Bookstore (and on two-hour reserve at the Lee Library):

Required readings for the course are listed below in the order in which we will read them. Articles and chapters marked * are found in the required texts. The remainder of the readings are available to photocopy in the Department of Political Science office (745 SWKT) in the mailboxes in a box marked "PlSc 313 Readings".

Why Study Groups?

Federalist Papers. 1987 [1788]. Penguin Books. [Numbers 10, 51]

*Berry [Chapter 1]

Group Theories

David B. Truman. 1951. The Governmental Process. Alfred A. Knopf. [Chapter 16]

*Olson [Introduction, Chapters 1-2, 5-6]

Russell Hardin. 1982. Collective Action. Johns Hopkins University Press. [Introduction, Chapters 1-3]

Robert H. Salisbury. 1969. "An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups." Midwest Journal of Political Science 13:1-32.

Andrew S. McFarland. 1992. "Interest Groups and the Policymaking Process." In The Politics of Interests, ed. Mark P. Petracca. Westview Press. [Chapter 3]

Development of the Interest Group System

Jack L. Walker, Jr. 1991. "The Mobilization of Political Interests in America." In Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. University of Michigan Press. [Chapter 2]

*Burdett A. Loomis and Allan J. Cigler. 1995. "Introduction." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 1]

John Mark Hansen. 1987. "Choosing Sides." Studies in American Political Development 2:183-229.

The Interest Group System Today

David C. King and Jack L. Walker, Jr. 1991. "An Ecology of Interest Groups in America." In Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. [Chapter 4]

*Wright [Chapter 2]

*Berry [Chapters 2-3]

Formation and Maintenance of Groups

David C. King and Jack L. Walker, Jr. 1991. "The Origins and Maintenance of Groups." In Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. [Chapter 5]

Jack L. Walker, Jr. 1991. "The Three Modes of Political Mobilization." In Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. [Chapter 10]

*Berry [Chapter 4]

*Christopher H. Foreman, Jr. 1995. "Grassroots Victim Organizations." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 2]

*James L. Guth et al. 1995. "Onward Christian Soldiers." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 3]

*Allan J. Cigler and Anthony J. Nownes. 1995. "Public Interest Entrepreneurs and Group Patrons." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 4]

*Christopher J. Bosso. 1995. "The Color of Money." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 5]

*Beverly A. Cigler. 1995. "Not Just Another Special Interest." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 6]

Strategies of Interest Groups

*Berry [Chapter 5]

*Kevin Hula. 1995. "Rounding Up the Usual Suspects." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 11]

*Loree Bykerk and Ardith Maney. 1995. "Consumer Groups and Coalition Politics on Capitol Hill." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 12]

Thomas L. Gais and Jack L. Walker, Jr. 1991. In Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. [Chapter 6]

*Berry [Chapter 8]

*Burdett A. Loomis and Eric Sexton. 1995. "Choosing to Advertise." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 9]

*Christine DeGregorio and Jack E. Rossotti. 1995. "Campaigning for the Court." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 10]

*William P. Browne. 1995. "Organized Interests, Grassroots Confidants, and Congress." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 13]

*Berry [Chapter 6]

Interest Groups and Congress

*Wright [Chapters 3-4]

John T. Tierney. 1992. "Organized Interests and the Nation's Capitol." In The Politics of Interests. [Chapter 9]

*Berry [Chapter 9]

Interest Groups and the Executive Branch

*Lawrence S. Rothenberg. 1995. "Deregulation and Interest Group Influence." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 14]

*Jeffrey M. Berry and Kent E. Portney. 1995. "Centralizing Regulatory Control and Interest Group Access." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 15]

Interest Groups and the Courts

Kim Lane Scheppele and Jack L. Walker, Jr. 1991. "The Litigation Strategies of Interest Groups." In Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. [Chapter 9]

Karen O'Connor and Bryant Scott McFall. 1992. "Conservative Interest Group Litigation in the Reagan Era and Beyond." In The Politics of Interests. [Chapter 12]

Political Action Committees

*Wright [Chapter 5]

*Berry [Chapter 7]

*M. Margaret Conway and Joanne Connor Green. 1995. "Political Action Committees and the Political Process in the 1990s." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 7]

*Frank J. Sorauf. 1995. "Adaptation and Innovation in Political Action Committees." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 8]

Case Study


Systemic Impact

*Berry [Chapter 10]

*Wright [Chapter 6]

*Allan J. Cigler and Burdett A. Loomis. 1995. "Contemporary Interest Group Politics." In Interest Group Politics. [Chapter 18]

Paul E. Peterson. 1992. "The Rise and Fall of Special Interest Politics." In The Politics of Interests. [Chapter 15]

Course Schedule (subject to change)

Date Author(s) Assignments
January 6 Introduction  
8 Federalist Papers [10,51]; Berry [1]  
13 Truman  
15 Olson [Introduction, 1-2]  
20 Olson [5-6]  
22 Hardin [Introduction, 1-3]  
27 Salisbury; McFarland Paper Topic Due
29 Walker; Loomis and Cigler  
February 3 Hansen  
5 King and Walker; Wright [2]  
10 Berry [2-3]  
12 King and Walker; Walker; Berry [4]  
17 No class (Monday)  
19 Foreman; Guth et al.; Cigler and Nownes Paper Outline/Sources Due
24 Bosso; Cigler  
26 Berry [5]; Hula; Bykerk and Maney Midterm Exam (26 or 27)
March 3 Gais and Walerk; Berry [8]; Loomis and Sexton  
5 DeGregorio and Rossotti; Browne; Berry [6]  
10 Wright [3-4] Peer Paper Draft Due
12 Tierney; Berry [9]  
17 Rothenberg; Berry and Portney Peer Review Due
19 Scheppele and Walker; O'Connor and McFall  
24 Wright [5]; Berry [7] Paper Due
26 Conway and Green; Sorauf  
31 Birnbaum [Introduction, Prologue, 1-5]  
April 2 Birnbaum [6-8, Epilogue]  
7 Berry [10]; Wright [6]  
9 Cigler and Loomis; Peterson  
14 Review  
15-16 Reading Period  
17   Final Exam