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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article takes an empirical look at the shape of the organized interest system in contemporary national politics. The discussion is predicated on two understandings that are sometimes overlooked in discussions of the mobilization of groups and the logic of collective action. The first is that interest groups are only a part of the set of organizations that represent collective interests in politics. Second, the shape of the organized interest system reflects not only processes by which organizations are created but also decisions to bring previously apolitical organizations into the political arena. The Washington Representatives directory is the single most nearly comprehensive listing of politically active organizations in Washington. It has shown that the shape of the organized interest community reflects both the free-rider problem and the resource-constraint problem and confirmed Schattschneider's observations that the heavenly chorus underrepresents organizations advocating on behalf of either broad public interests or the resource-deprived.

Keywords: organized interest system, contemporary national politics, groups, Washington Representatives, Schattschneider, free-rider problem, resource-constraint problem

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