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date: 23 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Interest groups often serve as intermediaries or brokers between formal decision-making institutions and organized subgroups of society. Due to this positioning, key functions of interest groups can be understood in network terms. This chapter addresses five questions about interest groups to which network analysis offers answers: (1) What are the origins of interest groups?; (2) How do they develop, maintain, and change their identities over time?; (3) Under what conditions do groups work together, and how?; (4) How do interest groups relate to other political institutions?; and (5) What influence do they have on politics generally? The discussion highlights various effects of networks on interest group politics, including how new groups are born out of preexisting networks, how they use connections to access information and influence policy, and how they maintain long-term relationships with policymakers. Future research could benefit from greater attention to multiplexity, content analysis, and longitudinal network analysis.

Keywords: social network, interest group, intermediary institution, emergence, identity, communication, coalition, influence

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