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Interest groups and business associations


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Eccleston, RG 2006 , 'Interest groups and business associations', in Foundations of Australian politics , Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW, pp. 78-94.

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Representative democracy is based on the notion that we hold
elections every few years to elect politicians to make decisions on our
behalf. While this is a central feature of most systems of government,
there are other important links between politicians and the communities
which they govern; links which have a significant impact on
government decision making. We have already discussed the important
role of political parties, how some parties represent certain sections of
society and how this influences the way that they govern. This chapter
examines an alternative avenue of representation; the way in which
individuals and firms form interest groups to try to influence
governments. It begins by outlining the key features of an interest
group and goes on to outline some of the ways in which they can
enhance democratic decision making. As with so many aspects of the
political process, there are also critics of interest groups who argue that
they can become too powerful and dominate governments, creating a
situation that benefits a powerful elite at the expense of the general
public. In order to assess such arguments, we introduce a basic system
for classifying interest groups according to their membership structure
and relationship with government. Having established this framework
the chapter concludes with a more detailed assessment of business
interest groups in Australia, how they are organised and the influence
that they exert on Australian politics.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Eccleston, RG
Publisher: Pearson Education Australia
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© 2006 Pearson Education Australia

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