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Through a comprehensive analysis of American agricultural politics in the past half-century, Gaining Access shows when, how, and why interest groups gain and lose influence in the policy deliberations of the United States Congress. By consulting with policy advocates, John Mark Hansen argues, lawmakers offset their uncertainty about the policy stands that will bolster or impede their prospects for reelection. The advocates provide legislators with electoral intelligence in Washington and supportive propaganda at home, earning serious consideration of their policy views in return. From among a multitude of such informants, representatives must choose those they will most closely consult.
With evidence from congressional hearings, personal interviews, oral histories, farm and trade journals, and newspapers, Hansen traces the evolution of farm lobby access in Congress. He chronicles the rise and fall of the American Farm Bureau, the surge and decline of party politics, the incoporation of the commodity lobbies, the exclusion of the consumer lobbies, and the accommodation of urban interests in food stamps.
Brilliantly combining insights from rational choice theory with historical data, Gaining Access is an essential guide for anyone interested in the dynamics of interest group influence.
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
I. The Origins of Interest Group Access
1. A Theory of Access
2. The Origins of Access in Agriculture, 1919-1932
3. The Maintenance of Access in Agriculture, 1933-1948
II. The Evolution of Interest Group Access
4. A Theory of Access: Amplifications and Extensions
5. The Erosion of Access in Agriculture, 1948-1981
6. Constraints, Alternatives and Access in Agriculture, 1949-1981
Commentary and Conclusions