Interest Groups Revisited

Authored by: Tamara Young , Catherine DiMartino , Brian Boggs

Handbook of Education Politics and Policy

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415660426
eBook ISBN: 9780203074107
Adobe ISBN: 9781135106775


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In the first edition of the Handbook of the Politics of Education, Opfer, Young, and Fusarelli (2008) point out that the number of interest groups and the amount they spend on lobbying has increased dramatically over the past few decades. Yet, despite this proliferation of interest groups and their activity, Opfer and colleagues contend that interest groups remain an understudied subfield of the politics of education. They also find that the paucity of scholarship that examines interest groups in education policy typically utilizes an inclusive definition of interest groups, a characterization, according to Opfer and her colleagues, that largely relies on Thomas and Hrebenar’s (1992) definition that considers an interest group as “any association of individuals, whether formally organized or not, that attempts to influence public policy” (as cited in Opfer et al., 2008, p. 197). Opfer and colleagues argue that this use of an inclusive definition conceals important conceptual problems related to our understanding and, hence, study of interest groups, notably organizational, activity, and distinctional ambiguity.

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