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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the role of interest groups in shaping American social welfare policy. It outlines major theories and findings on interest group influence in American politics and comparative welfare state development and examines the activities and influence of major categories of groups, including business, labor, agriculture, professional associations, intergovernmental organizations, and citizens’ groups. Although many interest groups have helped secure policies that form a limited social safety net, this chapter suggests that the competition among a diverse array of interest groups in a fragmented political system makes policy change difficult. This tendency towards gridlock, which favors the interests of some groups over others, has constrained the size and redistribution of the American welfare state.

Keywords: interest groups, business, labor, citizens’ groups, welfare state

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