Studies in the 1960s determined that Massachusetts had strong parties and weak interest groups. In the 1970s and 1980s, as the Republican Party shrank, party competition declined, conflict with the Democratic Party grew, and interest groups gained more importance — and probably will remain important despite the Republican gains of 1990. However, group conflict and citizen mobilization, including increased use of the initiative and referendum, create a situation of interest-centered conflict rather than interest-group dominance as traditionally conceived. This article, based on a 1987 survey of state legislators and legislative aides, plus a summary of recent Massachusetts political history, assesses the relative importance of various types of groups and of particular organizations.



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