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A number of changes in interest groups have taken place over the last three or four decades in the United States. The most significant change is the tremendous increase in both the number and type of groups.

Clive S. Thomas and Ronald J. Hrebenar. 1990. “Interest Groups in the States.” In Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis , 5th ed., eds. Virginia Gray, Herbert Jacob, and Robert B. Albritton. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 123–158; Clive S. Thomas and Ronald J. Hrebenar. 1991. “Nationalization of Interest Groups and Lobbying in the States.” In Interest Group Politics , 3d ed., eds. Allan J. Cigler and Burdett A. Loomis. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 63–80; Clive S. Thomas and Ronald J. Hrebenar. 1996. “Interest Groups in the States.” In Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis , 6th ed., eds. Virginia Gray, and Herbert Jacob. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 122–158; Clive S. Thomas and Ronald J. Hrebenar. 1999. “Interest Groups in the States.” In Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis , 7th ed., eds. Virginia Gray, Russell L. Hanson, and Herbert Jacob. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 113–143; Clive S. Thomas and Ronald J. Hrebenar. 2004. “Interest Groups in the States.” In Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis , 8th ed., eds. Virginia Gray and Russell L. Hanson. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 100–128.
Political scientists often examine the diversity of registered groups, in part to determine how well they reflect the variety of interests in society. Some areas may be dominated by certain industries, while others may reflect a multitude of interests. Some interests appear to have increased at greater rates than others. For example, the number of institutions and corporate interests has increased both in Washington and in the states. Telecommunication companies like Verizon and AT&T will lobby Congress for laws beneficial to their businesses, but they also target the states because state legislatures make laws that can benefit or harm their activities. There has also been an increase in the number of public interest groups that represent the public as opposed to economic interests. U.S. PIRG is a public interest group that represents the public on issues including public health, the environment, and consumer protection.
http://www.uspirg.org/ (November 1, 2015).

Public interest research groups

Public interest research groups (PIRGs) have increased in recent years, and many now exist nationally and at the state level. PIRGs represent the public in a multitude of issue areas, ranging from consumer protection to the environment, and like other interests, they provide opportunities for people to make a difference in the political process. PIRGs try to promote the common or public good, and most issues they favor affect many or even all citizens. Student PIRGs focus on issues that are important to students, including tuition costs, textbook costs, new voter registration, sustainable universities, and homelessness. Consider the cost of a college education. You may want to research how education costs have increased over time. Are cost increases similar across universities and colleges? Are they similar across states? What might explain similarities and differences in tuition costs? What solutions might help address the rising costs of higher education?

How can you get involved in the drive for affordable college education? Consider why students might become engaged in it and why they might not do so. A number of countries have made tuition free or nearly free.

Rick Noack, “7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free),” Washington Post , 29 October 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/10/29/7-countries-where-americans-can-study-at-universities-in-english-for-free-or-almost-free/.
Is this feasible or desirable in the United States? Why or why not?

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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