Interest Group Theory

Andrew McFarland

in The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542628
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Interest Group Theory


This article considers the four steps of interest group theory as it applies to American politics: group theory; Robert Dahl's pluralism; multiple elitist theory; and neopluralism. Participation in interest groups is seen to be one of four standard modes of participation in American politics. The interest group in niche theory is viewed in the context of other similar interest groups and its competition with them for resources of money and membership for group maintenance. It also pertains to group resource mobilization and group maintenance. The theory of internal democracy is also elaborated upon. Political scientists should keep remembering that attention must be paid to the role of interest groups in the theory and practice of democracy in America.

Keywords: group theory; pluralism; multiple elitist theory; neopluralism; Robert Dahl; American politics; niche theory; internal democracy; resource mobilization

Article.  8796 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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