PLSC 083 Lobbying the Federal Government


September 17, 2001




Short papers are due from Group 1 on Wednesday. Group 1 is everyone with last names beginning H through Z. Group 2 (A through G) will have papers due next week. These papers should be one page, single-spaced. Give your reactions to whether Light’s book applies to Penn State. The best papers stimulate discussion by focusing on particular details, not general comments or reactions. Use your own experiences or those of people you know to discuss specific events related to what the author describes.


Feedback on your papers:


Generally good. Several people got solid A’s: Very good for a first paper. Virtually all of you demonstrated a good understanding of the basics of Schattschneider’s ideas. Most linked those ideas well to a particular case. I made lots of comments in the margins of all of your papers; see if those make sense to you and talk to me about them after class or in office hours, or by email.

If you got a 94 or above (a few of you): keep it up.

If you got an 85 or so: You could improve by a little more attention to detail. This makes a big difference. Things to pay attention to:


            Making sure each sentence individually makes sense and is in the proper order.

            Grammar and spelling.

            Being specific in your references rather than vague, general, or ambiguous.

            Linking your theory with the case.

If you got a 75 or so: You could improve by much more attention to the above. In addition, there was a conceptual issue or a misunderstanding, or something else relatively serious. Come see me about it if my comments are not clear or if you do not see how to improve for next time.


Finishing up on Schattschneider:


Re-read his last chapter. For example, consider the following:


P. 129. “The role of the people in the political system is determined largely by the conflict system, for it is conflict that involves the people in politics and the nature of conflict determines the nature of the public involvement.”


Is more public involvement always good?


p. 134. Role of the public cannot possibly be to be involved constantly in all issues. A well functioning democratic system would see conflicts socialized where they should be socialized, but kept private most of the time.


Link this to the degree of public involvement and the early findings of public opinion surveys which showed that people often didn’t know what government was doing.


p. 137. “Democracy is likely nearly everything else we do; it is a form of collaboration of ignorant people and experts.”


p. 141. “Democracy is a competitive political system in which competing leaders and organizations define the alternatives of public policy in such a way that the public can participate in the decision-making process.”


p. 142 (last sentence of book): The socialization of conflict is the essential democratic process.”


Two questions for EES:


  1. Is a socialized conflict always best? What conflicts should not be socialized, if any?
  2. Are political parties and interest groups the best means for socializing conflicts?


Browne, Intro and Ch. 1:


What are groups? 1) voluntary members; 2) definable characteristics setting them apart from others; 3) concern with public policy.


Many things are not interest groups: charities, school groups, etc. But even those occasionally act as groups. What about businesses?


Reasons for joining:

Material benefits

Solidary benefits

Purposive benefits


Aren’t purposive benefits enough?


Free rider problem.