Interest groups provide a range of benefits to their members. These include informational and material benefits that keep the members informed on their topic of interest. They also provide social networking opportunities and a sense of belonging.
They can be helpful in promoting a particular group’s values. They also provide a voice for those who are not satisfied with the way that society is governed.
These groups often form to represent specific businesses, corporations, or governmental organizations. They will register to lobby to influence policy in a way that is beneficial to them.
Some of these groups will focus on issues that are widely supported by the public. These are called “valence issues.”
Other groups will focus on issues that are not as popular. They may be able to achieve more traction by targeting issues that are not as well known or by highlighting the negative aspects of an issue.
The main obstacle to collective action in interest groups is the “free rider problem.” This refers to the situation that many people have an incentive not to join a group because they can reap the benefits of the group without having to pay anything for membership.
The free rider problem can be overcome by selectively rewarding those individuals who do join the group and contribute to its goals. This can be done by providing selective informational or material benefits, or it can be achieved through providing solidary benefits that are enjoyed by all who participate in the group.