Have special interests taken over the country, derailing the public agenda and threatening representative democracy? Or is it possible that the maturation of interest group politics will yield a more pluralistic and balanced society? Interest groups have changed over the past two decades, and so have the ways in which we study them. This volume charts the changes in interest group theory, organization, activity, and the influence of interest groups in the United States and beyond.Leading scholars and practitioners trace notable shifts in interest group politics, including challenges to effective governance, new resources and techniques of influence, patterns of representation, and changing venues, targets, and characteristics of interest group activity. The mobilization of particular interests--including business, women, conservatives, and consumers--is given special attention. Institutional interactions and interest group evaluations round out the coverage.Sixteen original essays written especially for this volume reflect the best and most current scholarship in the field. New empirical research, informed theoretical reflection, and experienced involvement are all rendered accessable in this thematically unified collection. Petracca has drawn together leading text authors, cutting-edge researchers, established scholars, and rising young stars to capture the attention and challenge the thinking of both novice and serious students of interest groups.This compact yet comprehensive volume can provide the core of reading for a course on interest group politics, or it can supplement one of the leading texts in a wide range of courses in American politics. The distinguished lineup of contributors promises to make this book "must” reading for scholars, professionals, and practitioners, as well as for their students.