What Are the Positive and Negative Effects of an Interest Group?

A potential positive effect of interest groups is the opportunity they provide for people to contribute to a democratic political process. Competing goals among interest groups can also balance the groups out and prevent a single minority from imposing its will on the majority. A negative effect of interest groups is that a powerful minority can more easily influence politics and jeopardize service delivery.

An interest group is an association of individuals who unite to pursue a specific political or social agenda. The members share a conscious desire to move public policy in a defined direction. Those in favor of interest groups believe that the organizations are essential for a healthy democracy because they agitate for the common good and manage the flow of influence between the government and the public. Critics blame interest groups for generating controversy and interfering with the democratic process by promoting policies that benefit a minority rather than society as a whole. Interest groups include social organizations, unions and political groups. Agricultural industries, business sectors and workers often form groups that lobby the government on key legislative matters. Some groups cross national boundaries. These include The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the Council of European Federations of Industry.