Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Major Professor

Anthony Nownes

Committee Members

David Houston, Michael Fitzgerald, Howard Hall

Abstract

Science plays an increasingly important role in public policy in a range of issues from national security to public health. Thus, scientists will play an increasingly important role in society. This dissertation first examines how federal science funding changes with partisan control of key political institutions. Next, science-related interests groups, including their formation, specialization, and lobbying activities, are examined. Interest groups are a growing aspect of the American political system. However, they are an understudied aspect of political institutions. While much of their activity occurs within the legislative branch, they also work in the executive and judicial branches to advocate their proposed position.

I find that federal science funding increases with Democratic control over Congress as well as the presidency. This holds when examining overall, basic, and applied research as well as funding that funneled through specific federal agencies. I use this as a starting point to study science-related interest groups. I find that the population of science-related interest groups has grown over time and grown as federal science funding has increased. This population has become more specialized over time well, likely as a way for groups to attract additional members without having to compete with broad, well established groups that attract huge numbers of scientists. Finally, the lobbying activity of these groups is examined. I find that the lobbying activities of these science-related interest groups has increased over time and increased as federal science funding increased, although this finding is statistically insignificant.

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