The Interest Group Politics Lab Group at the University of Michigan calls for research assistants for the Fall 2014 semester. Participating undergraduate students can earn between 1 and 3 academic credits in the Department of Political Science or the Organizational Studies Program. For more information, contact Professor Michael Heaney, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interest groups are an omnipresent form of political organization in pluralist democracies. They represent a wide range of interests, from the environment and labor to medical professions, industries, and business. Yet because interest groups are not a formal part of government, relatively little is known about how they influence politics. Do they have too much power? Too little? Do some groups get represented more than others? Do they contribute to inequality or do they help to raise every voice in politics?
The Interest Group Politics Lab Group at the University of Michigan explores many questions related to the political functions of interest groups. During the 2014-2015 academic year, we will focus on three projects. First, we will examine how interest groups work together in lobbying coalitions. What are the factors that make it easier for them to collaborate and what factors make it harder? Second, we will look at how interest groups strategize about their organizational identities. How do they make themselves unique in a crowd of thousands of other groups? Third, we will explore networks of interest groups. How are different groups connected with one another? Who are the brokers in this network?
Student responsibilities include: (1) Online data searches; (2) Coding qualitative material; (3) Interview transcription; (4) Statistical analysis; and (5) Writing and proofreading reports.