The development of interest group politics in America: Beyond the conceits of modern times

Daniel J. Tichenor, Richard A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Research on interest groups today neglects the important task of analyzing historical patterns and secular, long-term changes. We note critical measurement errors in how contemporary political science has assessed the origins and development of interest group politics in the United States. Interest group scholars lack the reliable longitudinal data available to such fields as electoral or congressional studies. We suggest multidimensional means of recovering the "lost years" of interest group research, compensating for the absence of comprehensive and systematic data on U.S. organized interests before the 1960s. In order to generate empirical and theoretical insights that are not constrained by a particular historical context, we propose a conceptual framework for studying "interest group systems" across time. We also examine the rich possibilities of investigating the interest group and party systems as interacting and autonomous vehicles of representation in American political development. Only by broadening the time horizons of research will scholars be able to develop reliable insights about patterns and transformations of American interest group politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Development
  • Interest groups
  • Lobbying
  • Parties
  • Representation


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