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Politics has a great influence on individuals because it has enough power to affect almost all spheres of life, shaping them and defining people’s behavior. However, various social groups/classes can also attempt to influence or shape politics through such mechanisms as interest groups, elections, and social movements.
Interest groups and social movements represent the thought of the public. Politicians are able to find out the preferences of the populations if they focus on the people’s opinion. However, it is significant for these mechanisms to remember the fact that they tend to ignore broad ideas that exceed country’s interests. Elections provide the representatives of the representatives of the general public with the opportunity to affect the government. They seem to ensure a touchstone of democracy and allow people to indicate their preferences for change. They also make politicians meet the interests of the population as well as their aspirations.
Interest groups represent one of those mechanisms that are able to affect the government and their decisions. They are represented by different agents except for political parties. Among them, one can find business corporations and professional organizations. Trade associations and individual communities can also be perceived as interest groups. The very interest plays a great role in this perspective because it makes people feel closer to one another, which strengthens their cooperation and increases chances to achieve success. In general, interest groups attract attention to those issues that the government would not otherwise hear. They focus on a small range of narrow issues, defining all details that should be considered.
It is a well-known fact that social movements are maintained in order to bring some critical changes that the representatives of the general public are willing to observe. These are loose coalitions that gather because they have one or several common goals and believe that they can be reached much faster in cooperation. As a rule, this mechanism is represented by various groups and organizations. Movements focus on rather broad issues, such as those related to labor, and have long-term demands.
Elections are often connected with the large amounts of money that are used for promotion and to gain people’s populations. Individuals, groups, and institutions have enormous influence on those environments in which elections are held. This process should meet particular standards to meet the parameters of democracy. They should be competitive and nontrivial, elected officials should carry out their offices, and develop appropriate policies. Unfortunately, rather often these elements fail to be successfully accomplished.
Limitations and Possible Problems
Interest groups usually unite those individuals who have similar ideas and desires. That is why they tend to have organizational issues. Each of them is willing to contribute the group so that its performance improves greatly. As a result, several people often want to have one particular position. It can be a problem because it is better for a group to have one speaker, for instance, so that he/she keeps the interactions consistent. Misunderstandings within a group can cause a lot of complications in this perspective. There is a possibility that those interest groups that are initially gathered in order to resolve a particular political issue can overcome the collective action problem, for example, with the help of selective incentives.
Just as interest groups, many social movements fail because of the issues they have in the framework of collective actions. In this way, it is much easier for them to achieve success if resorting to entrepreneurs and special donors. The resource-mobilization perspective can also be used to get a better understanding of the problems faced by social movements because it reveals the way different organizations cooperate if they have already existed before. Here, problems can be faced because resources are not provided in a timely- and cost-effective manner.
Elections often have little influence on those decisions that have a critical influence on those areas that are vital for the representatives of the general public because the majority of policy decisions are made by nongovernmental leaders. Many elected officials are not responsible to their voters, which makes elections useless. In addition to that, people have to elect an official from a couple of representatives, which means that they have limited alternatives and have to choose someone even if their views differ to some degree. Money also has a lot of influence on elections and formation of the political agenda, which affects the overall outcomes.
Usage of Mechanisms by Different Groups and Classes
Limited opportunities to affect policy is faced by interest groups in parliamentary governments. They have fewer access points in comparison to others. For instance, those groups that operate in the USA have an opportunity to resort to each branch of government and can compete with one another for influence. In Germany, on the other hand, only particular interests are recognized by the government. In addition to that, interest groups are mainly formed and led by the representatives of rather influential organizations and corporations. The lower classes and those groups of people who have less influence tend to resort to social movements if they need changes. Individuals from the upper classes can participate in social movements, but poor and deprived population can hardly be seen in interest groups.
Elections are often connected with inequalities that is why a lot of professionals and representatives of the general public emphasize the fact that they are mainly used as tools to trick citizens but not to give them the power to make great differences. Individuals tend to have different access to elections, depending on their characteristics, such as race, age, nationality, etc. Regardless of the fact that Americans are claimed to be equal in their diversity, only European Americans were allowed to vote before the rights of African Americans altered. Still, even today deprived populations, immigrants, people who are not old enough have no opportunity to vote. Realizing that elections fail to provide expected results, many individuals stop voting at all not because of restrictions but due to their personal desires. The low levels of participation in elections mean that they do not represent public’s opinion anymore and do not fulfill their role.
People’s lives are always affected by politics because it determines the conditions, in which society exists. Fortunately, the representatives of the general public also have an opportunity to influence politics. With the help of interest groups, elections, and social movements, people can share their ideas and reveal their demands. However, different social groups/classes do not have equal access to these mechanisms. What is more, their usage can be aligned with particular problems and limitations. Still, even though these mechanisms are not perfect, people tend to resort to them, as they want to improve their lives.