U. S. Government: Democracy In Action

Chapter 18: Interest Groups and Public Opinion

Chapter Overviews

Interest groups serve an important role in helping people interact with their government. Chapter 18 focuses on interest groups and the variety of influences that impact people's political decisions.

Section 1 describes how interest groups influence political decisions. An interest group is a group of people who share common goals and organize to influence government. The role of the interest group is to help bridge the gap between citizens and the government.

Section 2 discusses the various methods interest groups use to influence public policy. Most often their lobbyists make direct contact with lawmakers or other government leaders. Interest groups also use financial contributions to political action committees to support the candidates that share their views.

Section 3 defines public opinion and the factors that shape it. A major factor is political socialization, which includes the influences of home and family, schools, peer groups, and mass media.

Section 4 explains how public officials gauge public opinion. Their sources of information on public opinion range from party organizations to electronic media. However, more and more candidates, businesses, and other organizations are looking to scientific polling to gauge public opinion.

US Government: Democracy In Action
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