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Beyond Cheap Talk and a Free Lunch : the Social and Political Power of Legislative Member Organizations

Carman, C.J. and Ringe, N. and Victor, J.N. (2013) Beyond Cheap Talk and a Free Lunch : the Social and Political Power of Legislative Member Organizations. University of Michigan Press. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Why do legislators invest scarce time and resources into forming and maintaining informal legislative groups that provide no obvious benefits? Legislative member organizations (LMOs)-such as caucuses in the US Congress, cross-party groups in the Scottish Parliament, and intergroups in the European Parliament--exist in numerous law-making bodies around the world parallel to the formal legislative institutions of parties and committees. Yet unlike parties and committees, LMOs play no obvious role in the legislative process. This project constitutes the first look at LMOs in a cross-national perspective and employs a mixed-methods approach that is of interest to scholars across several disciplines, including political science, sociology, economics, public policy, and international organization. It promises to shed light on the interaction of formal and informal political institutions, the dynamic nature of legislative politics, social networks as conduits of information exchange, and the relationships between actors inside the legislature and outsiders, such as lobbyists and interest groups.