Special Interest Groups & Activists: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Special Interest Groups
  • 1:05 Societal and Business…
  • 4:35 Activists
  • 5:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Businesses and society are often tasked with finding a method to have their special interests heard. In this lesson, you will learn how special interest groups and activists impact how decisions and regulations are implemented.

Special Interest Groups

According to the dictionary, a fighter is a pugnacious, unyielding or determined person. In the government arena, businesses and society need fighters to help ensure that their interests are represented and heard. In this lesson, you'll learn how this occurs by being introduced to the definitions of special interest groups and activists with real world examples.

Many activists are part of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which are non-profit groups that are not part of government, but help businesses, government and society communicate concerns and affect policy. An example of an NGO is a special interest group, which is a nonprofit organization that publicizes a specific cause for either society or business. Examples of specific interest groups include unions, business associations and trade groups. Let's learn more about how special interest groups fight to make their interests known.

Societal and Business Special Interest Groups

Special interest groups are divided into two categories: societal and business. Some of the societal special interest groups that you might be familiar with include MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) or the American Red Cross. These groups raise money to further their cause and engage legislators and businesses. For example, MADD worked with Senator Lautenberg to lower the legal blood alcohol level from .10 to .08. In addition, they have put pressure on business decisions as well. In 2008, MADD publicly criticized Rockstar Games, the makers of Grand Theft Auto IV, for allowing video game players to drive drunk in the game and asked Rockstar to stop distribution of the product. Other examples of social special interest groups include the:

  • Center For Public Integrity, which provides investigative journalism on numerous public issues and investigates businesses for abuses of power and unethical business practices. For example, a recent Center For Public Integrity study uncovered arsenic levels in groundwater across the U.S. Another study by the Center For Public Integrity uncovered how Bank of America got a no-bid deal to handle federal inmate's financial accounts and prison inventories.
  • Consumer Federation of America is an association of nonprofit organizations that act as consumer advocates. The CFA helped pressure the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to pass a new rule protecting children from high-powered magnets. There have been many cases of children dying through intestinal perforation because they were playing with magnets and ingested them accidentally. The CPSC is now protecting kids by requiring that lower power magnets be used in toys.

We have discussed social special interest groups, but there are also business special interest groups, which include associations and organizations. Peak interest groups and trade groups are the two categories of business interest groups.

Peak interest groups represent different businesses from multiple industries on a range of business topics. Some examples include the Better Business Bureau and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is currently trying to persuade legislators to change the antiquated Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was passed in 1991 and does not take into account mobile phones. The Chamber wants businesses to have the ability to contact consumers with non-marketing materials that are time sensitive.

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