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The Origins and Maintenance of Interest Groups in America

Jack L. Walker
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 77, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 390-406
DOI: 10.2307/1958924
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1958924
Page Count: 17
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The Origins and Maintenance of Interest Groups in America
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Abstract

Rather than striving to measure the influence of groups in the policy-making process this article concentrates instead on the ways in which interest groups are created and the means by which they remain in existence. A survey by mail was conducted during 1980-1981 of all voluntary associations that are open to membership and concerned with some aspects of public policy at the national level. The sample of groups was chosen from the Congressional Quarterly's Washington Information Directory. Questionnaires were delivered to 913 interest groups, and usable responses were received from 564, yielding a response rate of 64.8%. Most studies of groups have concerned the tactics employed by group leaders in attracting and holding their members. This study demonstrates that the origins and maintenance of groups depends even more upon the success of group leaders in securing funds from outside their membership which are needed to keep their groups in operation. Estimates of patronage from different sources are provided as well as data on the congruence between the policy goals of groups and their patrons.

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