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Student Question

What are 4 types of interest groups?

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Four types of interest groups are economic, public, religious, and civil interest groups. Economic interest groups represent businesses. Public interest groups, such as consumer groups, don’t seek to profit from policy changes. Religious groups seek changes to policy based on their particular faith. Civil rights groups advocate for civil rights and against discrimination.

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There are many different types of interest groups operating in American government today. However, the main four are economic interest groups, public interest groups, religious groups, and civil rights groups.

Economic groups seek changes in policy that benefit their members financially. So for instance, the National Association of Manufacturers will lobby the government to implement policies that benefit the American manufacturing industry. Big labor unions such as the AFL-CIO also put pressure on governments to make changes that help their members, such as a higher minimum wage or paid annual leave.

Public interest groups, such as consumer advocacy and environmental groups, don’t seek to benefit financially from the changes they seek. A good example of a public interest group would be Common Cause, a non-partisan organization that campaigns for improvements to the democratic process.

Religious interest groups seek policy changes that will reflect their values. Such groups are particularly influential in the Republican Party, many of whose supporters are evangelical Christians. Groups such as Focus on the Family advocate policies for American families that are consistent with their particular interpretation of Scripture.

Finally, we have civil rights groups, which campaign for equality for various oppressed minorities—or in the case of women, oppressed majorities—and against discrimination. Examples would include the NAACP, which campaigns on behalf of people of color, and the National Organization of Women (NOW), which campaigns for female equality.

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