Political scientists Thomas R. Dye and Harmon Zeigler (2008) have summarized the key elements of pluralism as follows:
• The diverse needs of women and men, people of all religions and racial-ethnic backgrounds. and the wealthy. middle class. and poor are met by political leaders who engage in a process of bargaining, accommodation. and compromise.
• Competition among leadership groups in government. business. labor. education, law. medicine, and consumer organizations, among other, helps prevent abuse of power by anyone group. These groups often operate as veto groups that attempt 10 protect their own interests by keeping others from taking actions that would threaten those interests.
• Power is widely dispersed in society. Leadership groups that wield inlluence on some decisions are -not the same groups that may be influential in other decisions.
• Public policy is not always based on majority preference; rather. it reflects a balance among compeling interest groups.
• Everyday people can influence public policy-by voting in elections, participating in existing special Special Interest Groups Special interest groups are political coalitions made up of individuals or groups that share a specific interest they wish to protect or advance With the help of the political system (Greenberg and Page, 2002). Examples of special interest groups include the AFL-CIO (representing the majority of labor unions) and public interest or citizens’ groups such as the American Conservative Union and Zero Population Growth.
What purpose do special interest groups serve in the political process? According to some analysts, special interest groups help people advocate their own interests and further their causes. Broad categories of special interest groups include banking, business, education, energy, the environment, health, labor, persons with a disability, religious groups, retired persons, women, and those espousing a specific ideological viewpoint; obviously, many groups overlap in interests and membership. Special interest groups are a referred to as pressure groups (because they put pressure on political leaders) or lobbies. Lobbies are often referred to in terms of the organization they represent or the single issue on which they focus-for example, the “gun lobby” and the “dairy lobby” The people who are paid to influence legislation on behalf of specific clients are referred to as lobbyists.
Over the past four decades, special interest groups have become more involved in “single-issue politics; in which political candidates are often supported or rejected solely on the basis of their views on a specific issue-such as abortion, gun control, gay and lesbian rights, or the environment. Single-issue groups derive their strength from the intensity of their beliefs; leaders have little room to compromise on issues.