Group Articulation and Activity



The group basis of American politics can be used more profitably to explain domestic politics than the conduct of foreign policy. Organizations are more active concerning the distribution of tangible values for their members than for foreign policy goals which appear less immediate to them. When David Farnsworth studied the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the early 1950’s, he found the major political interest organizations were relatively inactive in the foreign policy process. While there has been a notable increase in group participation since then, it is more of an alteration than a transformation of the earlier pattern. Activity by organizations continues to be selective, and groups do not devote their limited resources equally to all international issues such as foreign aid, military assistance agreements, arms controls proposals, and the appointment of ambassadors. Having developed a hierarchy of preferences, the groups have accordingly allocated their time, money, energy, prestige, and talent to those issues which are most important to their leaders and members. Since foreign policy is a peripheral issue for most groups in the United States, their contributions are often limited to statements of support or opposition. Endorsements, while an activity, are a low-level activity and not comparable to intensive lobbying and mass public relations campaigns.


Foreign Policy Executive Branch Foreign Relation Goal Group Senate Committee 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1970

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