3rd Edition

Interest Groups in American Politics Pressure and Power

By Anthony J. Nownes Copyright 2023
    314 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    314 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Americans regularly rail against so-called “special interests.” Yet, many members of society are themselves represented in one form or another by organized groups trying to affect government decisions. Interest Groups in American Politics, Third Edition, is grounded by the role of information in interest group activity, a theme that runs through the book. This concise, thorough text demonstrates that interest groups are involved in the political system at all levels of government—federal, state, and local—and in all aspects of political activity, from election campaigns to agenda setting to lawmaking and policy implementation. Rather than an anomaly or distortion of the political system, interest group activity is a normal and healthy function of a pluralist society and democratic governance. Nonetheless, Nownes warns of the dangers of unwatched interest group activity, especially in the realms of the electoral process and issue advocacy.

    This much-anticipated third edition of Nownes’s text retains a student-friendly tone. It thoroughly updates the references to interest group research, social media activity, new foreign actors in American politics, and political action committee (PAC) and party connections. Numerous figures and tables throughout the book help students visualize significant trends and information.

    New to the Third Edition

    • A new section in Chapter 1 (Interest Groups in the United States) on social movements in the US.
    • A new section in Chapter 4 (The Non-Lobbying Activities of Interest Groups) on how interest groups use social media to recruit members and burnish their image.
    • A new section in Chapter 5 (Direct Lobbying) about lobbying regulation, how it affects group behavior, and "shadow interests."
    • New data in Chapter 6 (Electoral Lobbying) on how and how much groups spend on PACs, super PACs, and other vehicles for election spending.
    • A new section in Chapter 7 (Indirect Lobbying) on how interest groups use social media and new technology to affect political outcomes.
    • A new section in Chapter 8 (Interest Groups and Political Parties) on interest groups, the Republican Party, and President Donald Trump.
    • New information in Chapter 9 (The Influence of Interest Groups) on the latest research on interest group power and influence. The new section will cite the latest literature on the growing power of business.

    1. Interest Groups in the United States
    2.  The Evolution of Interest Groups in the United States
    3. The Formation and Maintenance of Interest Groups
    4. The Non-Lobbying Activities of Interest Groups
    5. Direct Lobbying
    6. Electoral Lobbying
    7. Indirect Lobbying
    8. Interest Groups and Political Parties
    9. The Influence of Interest Groups
    10. Conclusion: The Role of Interest Groups in American Politics


    Anthony J. Nownes is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author of numerous works on interest group politics at the federal, state, and local level and is an award-winning teacher.

    Praise for Interest Groups in American Politics: Pressure and Power, Third Edition

    Personally engaging and relevant to modern times, this book explains the who, what, when, and where of lobbying in America. Even better: it explains why some interests are represented while others are not, why some lobbyists are more influential than others, and why interest groups sometimes use tactics (e.g., sponsoring advertisements, organizing protests) other than lobbying to affect government policy. Nownes draws from interviews with advocates to enliven core concepts in the study of interest groups. This book is rich both empirically and theoretically and is sure to become a common text assigned in undergraduate courses.

    --James Strickland, Arizona State University