A major work by one of America's most eminent political scientists, "Political Organizations" has had a profound impact on how we view the influence of interest groups on policy making. James Q. Wilson wrote this book to counter two ideas: that popular interests will automatically generate political organizations and that such organizations will faithfully mirror the opinions and interests of their members. Moreover, he demonstrated that the way in which political organizations (including parties, business groups, labor unions, and civil rights associations) are created and maintained significantly affects the opinions they represent and the tactics they use. Now available for the first time in paperback, this book has broadened its scope to include recently developed organizations as it addresses many of today's concerns over the power of such groups as special-interests lobbies.
In 1973, when this book was first published, the press and public were fascinated by the social movements of the 1960s, thinking that the antiwar and civil rights movements might sweep aside old-fashioned interest-group lobbies. Wilson argued, however, that such movements would inevitably be supplanted by new organizations, ones with goals and tactics that might direct the course of action away from some of the movement's founding principles. In light of the current popular distress with special-interest groups and their supposed death-grip on Congress, Wilson again attempts to modify a widely held view. He shows that although lobbies have multiplied in number and kind, they remain considerably restrained by the difficulty they have in maintaining themselves. His approach charts a useful middle course between the pluralist and the rational-choice schools of thought.