The People’s Lobby

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'''Elisabeth S. Clemens. ''The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN 0-226-10993-3 (paper).'''''
'''Elisabeth S. Clemens. ''The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN 0-226-10993-3 (paper).'''''
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'''Responses'''
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==Summary==
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'''Alex Bradshaw Fall 2012'''
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In this book, Clemens explains some of the changes in the U.S. around the turn of the twentieth century that led to a transformation in the ways that people thought about and participated in party politics as we now know them. One of the most significant changes that occurred at this time was the shift among most citizens from traditional partisan politics to participation with the goal of achieving specific ends or supporting specific interests; popular political participation began to involve direct involvement in legislative activity. Clemens documents this change by presenting the experiences of people in the states of Washington, Wisconsin, and California as political rules and processes changed and groups of citizens emerged who believed themselves to be both able and entitled to promoting explicitly self-interested claims in political organizations and action.  
In this book, Clemens explains some of the changes in the U.S. around the turn of the twentieth century that led to a transformation in the ways that people thought about and participated in party politics as we now know them. One of the most significant changes that occurred at this time was the shift among most citizens from traditional partisan politics to participation with the goal of achieving specific ends or supporting specific interests; popular political participation began to involve direct involvement in legislative activity. Clemens documents this change by presenting the experiences of people in the states of Washington, Wisconsin, and California as political rules and processes changed and groups of citizens emerged who believed themselves to be both able and entitled to promoting explicitly self-interested claims in political organizations and action.  
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According to Clemens, the transformation to interest politics at the turn of the twentieth century involved three main steps, or distinct processes: First, the traditional system of national organizations dedicated to the mass mobilization of people in support of the main political parties began to decay as a result of changes in conditions that inspired popular disappointment with the parties. Second, Americans developed new models for political organization that involved alternatives to traditional political participation. Third, these new models changed, and were changed by, existing political institutions, with legislatures, administrative agencies, and public opinion beginning to characterize politics. The introduction of alternatives to standard party politics was the catalyst for these changes.
According to Clemens, the transformation to interest politics at the turn of the twentieth century involved three main steps, or distinct processes: First, the traditional system of national organizations dedicated to the mass mobilization of people in support of the main political parties began to decay as a result of changes in conditions that inspired popular disappointment with the parties. Second, Americans developed new models for political organization that involved alternatives to traditional political participation. Third, these new models changed, and were changed by, existing political institutions, with legislatures, administrative agencies, and public opinion beginning to characterize politics. The introduction of alternatives to standard party politics was the catalyst for these changes.
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--[[User:Abradsh3|Abradsh3]] 16:50, 19 September 2012 (UTC)Clemens claims that there were three main forms of organization led to the transformation in popular political participation by helping people to learn how to organize themselves and that they should organize themselves in pursuit of class interests. The tradition of organized labor had begun in the final years of the nineteenth century and had very little success, which taught workers that they could ask for improved conditions, and made them more dissatisfied when conditions failed to improve, and willing to fight for that improvement. Agricultural groups were in even less advantageous positions than industrial laborers, and had experience in organization, an established precedent of turning to government agencies for assistance through the American Farm Bureau Federation, and experience in influencing legislative action. The women’s movement had experience in organizing for suffrage and reform movements, experience with government intervention through social policy efforts, and the desire to further improve conditions. Each of these groups learned the potential power that organizing held, had learned to expect support from government and legislation, and had been taught to believe that they had a right to improvement in their lives. This was mirrored by changes in legislative practices that moved away from the tradition of strict partisan loyalty and toward action in favor of specific interests or causes. These changes prepared individuals to engage in interest activism and created a political environment in which such activism could be a productive and viable way to make gains.
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==Commentary==
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===Alex Bradshaw, September 2012===
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Clemens claims that there were three main forms of organization led to the transformation in popular political participation by helping people to learn how to organize themselves and that they should organize themselves in pursuit of class interests. The tradition of organized labor had begun in the final years of the nineteenth century and had very little success, which taught workers that they could ask for improved conditions, and made them more dissatisfied when conditions failed to improve, and willing to fight for that improvement. Agricultural groups were in even less advantageous positions than industrial laborers, and had experience in organization, an established precedent of turning to government agencies for assistance through the American Farm Bureau Federation, and experience in influencing legislative action. The women’s movement had experience in organizing for suffrage and reform movements, experience with government intervention through social policy efforts, and the desire to further improve conditions. Each of these groups learned the potential power that organizing held, had learned to expect support from government and legislation, and had been taught to believe that they had a right to improvement in their lives. This was mirrored by changes in legislative practices that moved away from the tradition of strict partisan loyalty and toward action in favor of specific interests or causes. These changes prepared individuals to engage in interest activism and created a political environment in which such activism could be a productive and viable way to make gains.

Revision as of 14:22, 30 January 2013

Elisabeth S. Clemens. The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN 0-226-10993-3 (paper).

Summary

In this book, Clemens explains some of the changes in the U.S. around the turn of the twentieth century that led to a transformation in the ways that people thought about and participated in party politics as we now know them. One of the most significant changes that occurred at this time was the shift among most citizens from traditional partisan politics to participation with the goal of achieving specific ends or supporting specific interests; popular political participation began to involve direct involvement in legislative activity. Clemens documents this change by presenting the experiences of people in the states of Washington, Wisconsin, and California as political rules and processes changed and groups of citizens emerged who believed themselves to be both able and entitled to promoting explicitly self-interested claims in political organizations and action.

During this time, in the pursuit of ‘special interests,’ people organized themselves into voluntary organizations through which they learned how articulate demands for specific interests, participate in the influencing legislation that effected these interests, and monitor the responses of elected officials to their work. In this way, individuals assumed the roles of lobbies, which had long been present in American politics, but had never before involved so much popular participation.

According to Clemens, the transformation to interest politics at the turn of the twentieth century involved three main steps, or distinct processes: First, the traditional system of national organizations dedicated to the mass mobilization of people in support of the main political parties began to decay as a result of changes in conditions that inspired popular disappointment with the parties. Second, Americans developed new models for political organization that involved alternatives to traditional political participation. Third, these new models changed, and were changed by, existing political institutions, with legislatures, administrative agencies, and public opinion beginning to characterize politics. The introduction of alternatives to standard party politics was the catalyst for these changes.

Commentary

Alex Bradshaw, September 2012

Clemens claims that there were three main forms of organization led to the transformation in popular political participation by helping people to learn how to organize themselves and that they should organize themselves in pursuit of class interests. The tradition of organized labor had begun in the final years of the nineteenth century and had very little success, which taught workers that they could ask for improved conditions, and made them more dissatisfied when conditions failed to improve, and willing to fight for that improvement. Agricultural groups were in even less advantageous positions than industrial laborers, and had experience in organization, an established precedent of turning to government agencies for assistance through the American Farm Bureau Federation, and experience in influencing legislative action. The women’s movement had experience in organizing for suffrage and reform movements, experience with government intervention through social policy efforts, and the desire to further improve conditions. Each of these groups learned the potential power that organizing held, had learned to expect support from government and legislation, and had been taught to believe that they had a right to improvement in their lives. This was mirrored by changes in legislative practices that moved away from the tradition of strict partisan loyalty and toward action in favor of specific interests or causes. These changes prepared individuals to engage in interest activism and created a political environment in which such activism could be a productive and viable way to make gains.

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