Much of the literature on ethnic lobby groups comes from either research on interest groups or ethnicity that looks to foreign policy cases, or foreign policy analysis studies that focus on the role of interest groups or ethnic groups. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a burst of scholarly activity regarding ethnic interest group activism in US foreign policy, following the changes in American society and in the US Congress that emerged from the wake of Watergate, Vietnam, and the civil rights movement. Later, the end of the Cold War brought a new burst of ethnic lobbying on foreign policy, and a new wave of scholarly attention to these issues. During both of these bursts of attention, studies predominantly focused on the activities of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which was often seen as an exception to the rule that interest groups are not very significant forces in the foreign policy sphere. Another source of research on ethnic issues and foreign policy is the emerging literature on ethnicity, the construction thereof, and the political development of ethnic communities over time. The three basic issues that stand out in the literature about ethnic lobbying on foreign policy include the formation of ethnic interest groups, the roots of ethnic interest group success, and whether ethnic lobbies actually capture policy in their respective areas, at least in the context of US foreign policy. Meanwhile, the two level game perspective and the competition among ethnic groups needs further exploration.
Patrick J. Haney
Douglas C. Foyle and Douglas Van Belle
Societal factors such as public opinion, interest groups, and the media can influence foreign policy choices and behavior. To date, the public opinion and foreign policy literature has focused largely on data derived from the US, although this trend has begun to change in recent years. However, while much of the scholarly work suggests that public attitudes on foreign policy are both reasonable and structured, significant controversies exist over the public’s general influence on policy as well as the influence of elections on foreign policy. Meanwhile, the study of interest groups as a domestic source of foreign policy is dominated by two points of emphasis: ethnic groups acting as interest groups and the US case. These are most often considered together. This ethnic interest group literature stands largely apart from the literature on trade interest groups, which takes its inspiration from the economics literature. Finally, two aspects of media are specifically relevant to media and domestic sources of foreign policy. The first is the way the media serve as an arena of domestic political competition within democracies, and the second is the communicative role that media play in the formation of public opinions that are specific to and critical to foreign policy decision making.
Ideas and people may be mobilized in order to influence the thinking of policy makers or society to either promote a specific point of view or enact policy in the form of laws or programs that benefit the ideas or people. This mobilization of ideas and people is known as political advocacy, which falls into two broad categories: social action and social mobilization, which can—but not necessarily—give rise to social movements, and interest and lobbying groups. According to Mancur Olson, groups are organized to pursue a common good or benefit. The success or failure of such groups can be explained using models such as the classical model, the resource mobilization model, and the “political process” model. The success of political advocacy is contingent upon a number of interrelated concepts and characteristics, including access to resources (money, people, and time), good leadership, a sense of identity or common focus, and the opportunity to be heard. A movement can distribute its message to its target audience—for example, policy makers, opinion leaders, potential participants, or the public at large—by means of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Two theses are used to assess the effectiveness of ICTs in political advocacy: the mobilization thesis and the reinforcement thesis. The inclusion of international communication has enriched our understanding of how, when, where, and why political advocacy is or is not effective.