Interest Groups and Lobbying

Pursuing Political Interests in America


Thomas T. Holyoke

First Edition • March 1, 2014 • 352 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813345819 • $35.00 USD$45.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813345826 • $22.99 USD$22.99 CAN

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Interest groups and lobbyists play a crucial role in how public policy is made in the United States’ representative democracy. By helping citizens organize and pursue their self-interests in the political arena, interest groups and lobbyists are an alternative but very effective form of representation. However, the adversarial nature of interest groups often fuels voter discomfort with the political process. Interest Groups and Lobbying is an accessible and comprehensive text that examines the crux of this conflict. Pulling together two areas of interest group research—why advocacy organizations form and how they are able to gain influence in Washington, DC—Thomas T. Holyoke shows students the inner workings of interest groups in the United States. Using case studies to clarify and expand on the issues surrounding lobbying and group action in federal, state, and local government, Holyoke explores how we can use interest groups and their adversarial impulse to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people.


Thomas T. Holyoke is associate professor of political science at California State University, Fresno. He is the author of Competitive Interests: Competition and Compromise in American Interest Group Politics and journal articles published in the American Journal of Political Science, Congress and the Presidency, Political Research Quarterly, and American Review of Politics.

Introduction: First Shoot All of the Lobbyists?

Part One: Origins and Structure
1. Interests and Interest Groups
2. Collective Action and Interest Group Organization
3. Social Movements (Trying to Be Interest Groups?)
4. Lobbyists and Organization Management
5. A Model of Interest Group Advocacy

Part Two: Lobbying and Influence
6. Lobbying Congress, the Most Permeable Branch
7. Executive Branch Lobbying
8. Interest Groups Going to Court
9. Friends Foes of Convenience
10. Interest Groups in Campaign Finance

Conclusion: Representation in the Interest Group Age

Interest Groups and Lobbying provides a compelling and thoughtful examination of lobbying and advocacy that allows students to consider the topic in both an applied and theoretically rigorous way.” —Interest Groups & Advocacy

“Holyoke confronts the myth that interest group politics are always bad for democracy by elucidating the benefits and costs they have for the American system of government. This book will be of value to all who seek to understand the mobilization of interests from the grassroots to the inner corridors of power.”
—Michael T. Heaney, University of Michigan

Interest Groups and Lobbying is a most welcome addition to the literature on organized interests. Holyoke provides a rich theoretical account of interest groups, along with both quantitative data and in-depth case studies to understand how organizations form and shape public policy in a variety of contexts. Importantly, this well-written and engaging volume never loses focus on the normative concerns associated with interest groups in American democracy.”
—Paul M. Collins Jr., University of North Texas

Interest Groups and Lobbying is an engaging, informed, and innovative analysis of interest groups and lobbying. More than simply a description of lobbyist ‘dos and don’ts,’ this book provides a serious model for understanding the real-world issues that lobbyists and the groups they work for face.”
—Rodd Freitag, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

“Few other interest group texts integrate multiple perspectives to understand interest group activity as this book does. Interest Groups and Lobbying will challenge students to rethink their assumptions about interest groups, and think more critically about the problems of representation in the interest group age.”
—Bryan McQuide, Grand View University and University of Idaho

“Though it is an arena of politics with growing attention among scholars and students, there has been a deficit in textbooks that focus on interest groups. Holyoke’s clearly written, informative, and nuanced explanation of the politics of interest groups fills this gap. Perhaps most useful for teaching students about lobbying are the case studies on national parks, gun control, and the US Chamber of Commerce.”
—Heath Brown, Seton Hall University

“This comprehensive study provides readers with everything they need to know about interest groups, from their formation to how they interact with policy makers. All of the chapters, which are grounded in current scholarship, introduce material in a refreshingly accessible manner and never stray too far from real-world politics. Examples are carefully chosen to illustrate the central conceptual details that the author presents. Interest Groups and Lobbying would be ideal for a semester-long course on organized interests and advocacy, and would nicely complement other selections in a course about the policy making process.”
—Marie Hojnacki, Penn State University

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