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Political Science Research Guide: Political Advocacy Groups

Provides and introduction to key resources used when looking for research materials in the field of Political Science

What are Advocacy Groups?

Wikipedia Defines Advocacy Groups as Such:

"an advocacy group normally aim[s] to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an asset of interest. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research or poll or the 'filing of friend of the court briefs'. Lobbying (often by Lobby Groups) is a form of advocacy where a direct approach is made to legislators on an issue which plays a significant role in modern politics.

Policy.Ca - a Canadian site - defines Advocacy Groups as such:

An advocacy group is an organization that attempts to influence public policy without putting up candidates for election (as political parties do). Advocacy groups exist along a spectrum that runs from broadly ideological to extremely issue-specific. An example of a fairly broad ideological advocacy group would be the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, whereas a group such as the Pro-Choice Action Network is largely single-issue. Advocacy groups are quite similar to lobby groups, though they do not engage in direct lobbying of governments (which requires registration as a lobby organization). Instead, advocacy groups pursue their respective causes through a variety of indirect means. Advocacy groups generally speak on behalf of a particular constituency in society, attempting to advance the special interests of that constituency accordingly.

Both say advocacy Groups are similar to Lobby Groups but Policy.Ca makes it clear that Canadian Advocacy Groups cannot directly lobby the government.

Federal Government Makes it Difficult for Environmental Groups to Lobby

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Political Advocacy and Lobby Groups


  • Wikipedia: Political Advocacy Groups in Canada
    Contains links to web sites of various advocacy groups.
    Directory to the public policy content of associations, interest groups, NGOs, coalitions, and corporations. Web sites are arranged by sector and issue area with Canadian web sites first
  • Advocacy Groups
    Contains links to various advocacy groups in Canada by Subject and Region
    Listing of Advocacy groups in Canada organized by Subject. Also has definition of Advocacy Groups.
  • Public Interest Advocacy Centre
    PIAC is a non-profit organization that provides legal and research services on behalf of consumer interests, and, in particular, vulnerable consumer interests, concerning the provision of important public services.
  • Strategis Lobbyist Registration System
    Government of Canada Site listing all officially registered lobby groups.
  • Journalism.Net: Canadian Lobbyists
    Great site with links to Lobbyists, Lobby Groups, and Think Tanks
  • Democracy Watch
    Citizens site focused on making Governments and Corporations Accountable in Canada.

United States

  • Political Advocacy Groups: A Directory of United States Lobbyists
    Provides and excellent list of important lobby and advocacy groups by subject (environment, agriculture, etc.)
  • National Political Index: Contacting Political Activist Groups (594)
    Extensive listing of 594s including some Canadian ones.
  • Silent Partners: Database of 527 Groups
    Funded by the Center for Public Integrity this site list 527s and also has Investigative Journalism into issues of Public Concern
  • Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission 
    Supreme Court Ruling in the Fall of 2009 which grants Corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts on advertising during Elections. Its ruling is very controversial in that it deemed that Corporations - under the Constitution - have  the same right to free speech as individuals.
  • Federal Election Commission 
    Campaign Finance Data
    Nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.  As part of their site they have the Lobbying Database with information on the amount of lobbying dollars given to elected officials in the U.S.
  • Maplight
    Hosted by Google Fusion with downloadable tables, the site states: Citizens, journalists, and programmers can now view, search, sort, filter, and visualize (with charts, line graphs, bar graphs, scatter plots, and timelines) federal campaign contributions using Google Fusion Tables. Data can also be merged with outside databases, and visualizations can be easily embedded into blogs, media sites, and more.
  • Occupy Wall Street
    Group that is fundamentatlly opposed to the allocation of wealth in the U.S.  Their motto is "We are the 99%" that no longer tolerates the greed of the 1%.   

Readings on Advocacy & Lobby Groups


Dr Suzuki Fights Back against Harper Government and Argues there is No Economy without Ecology: That our Economic System should be BioCentric


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Carmen Kazakoff -Lane, Scholarly Communications Librarian
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