The Deliberative and Adversarial Attitudes of Interest Groups

Éric Montpetit

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Deliberative and Adversarial Attitudes of Interest Groups


In general, interest groups are perceived to have a bad reputation in modern democracies. They are seen as “special interests” capable of obtaining underserved benefits from the government. Interest groups are also often perceived as distortions to the normal functioning of the democratic systems and as adversarial political systems. In spite of the negative impression made by interest groups, they nevertheless contribute to policy debates and deliberations. They can improve the quality of deliberations over collective problems and solutions, thereby improving policy choices regardless of the nature of their representations. Interest groups can have a legitimate role in democratic policy-making systems. This article discusses the adversarial and deliberative perspectives of interest groups and the legitimate attitudes expected of these groups in a democracy. It also provides a survey that assesses: the deliberative and adversarial attitudes of interest groups, the opinion change on policy issues relevant to the biotechnology sector, and the unwarranted bad reputation of interest groups.

Keywords: interest groups; government; adversarial political systems; policy debates; policy-making systems; deliberative attitudes; adversarial attitudes

Article.  8233 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics

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