Aggregation is the process of bringing together many political interests to create a collection of policies that are more or less cohesive and may be used to create a political manifesto. In representative democracies, this role is mainly carried out by political parties, whereas interest groups and pressure organizations primarily carry out the associated function of interest articulation.
A fundamental concept in the discipline of political economy is preference aggregation. It establishes how the collective decision, which is then represented in policy, is derived from individual viewpoints and preferences. Political elections, the most prevalent process of preference aggregation, rely on the forms of political institutions in a particular nation or society.
Gathering and balancing several, often competing interests is aggregating them. For example, let’s say a business organization supports legislation to support the domestic production of the semiconductor chip. A green organization campaigns against the law because it could lead to an increase in carbon emissions. The legislature would then have to choose between conflicting ideas or reach an agreement between the two interest groups. It takes on the responsibility of interest aggregation in any scenario.
According to Almond and Coleman, interest aggregation is a task that political parties also do. Political parties are composed of large coalitions of persons with wildly divergent interests, as opposed to interest groups, often established by those with similar and focused interests. Political parties must unite various interests to form that coalition and make an electoral appeal.
Personal Interest Aggregation
Through interpersonal ties, political interests may be brought together in policymaking. The patron-client system is a crucial component of the aggregation of personal interests. Patron-client networks, organizations where a central officeholder, such as the patron, offers advantages to clients in return for their allegiance and support, are present in almost all civilizations. Such networks served as feudalism’s guiding philosophy. The bonds of personal reliance and allegiance united the monarch and his lords, the lord and his knights, and the knight and his serfs and tenants.
Personal networks are not limited to connections created just via patronage. For instance, the president of the United States often maintains a close-knit group of advisers, known as the “kitchen cabinet,” who are connected to their leader professionally and personally.
Patron-client networks are set up by influential individuals who cultivate and maintain the loyalty of others in more subordinate positions. Both customers and clients see their relationship as a personal tie akin to the love that binds members of a family or kin group. However, contrary to families, where the connection is seen as permanent and sometimes taken for granted, a patron-client relationship must continually be reaffirmed and renegotiated.
Institutional Interest Aggregation
Personal networks tend to be controlled, constrained, and integrated into more important institutions in emerging countries as people become aware of more significant collective interests and have the means to act for them. Interest groups may readily cross the fine line between interest articulation and aggregation with substantial resources.
Associational groups often assist political competitors like political parties. However, they sometimes have access to enough funding to compete on their own.
Corporatist interest group arrangements enable corporate and labor organizations to actively participate in determining economic policy. These agreements involve ongoing political negotiations between government representatives, commercial interests, political parties, and organized labor. Such corporatist structures connect organizations with distinct, often hostile functions in other political systems.
Institutional organizations, like military factions and bureaucratic organizations, may also be crucial interest aggregators. The bureaucracy serves this purpose in the majority of civilizations. Even though the bureaucracy was mainly created to carry out public policy, it may negotiate with interest groups to ascertain their preferences or rally their support.
Even worse, interest groups may “capture” government institutions and utilize them to further their agenda. To grow their organizations or strengthen their positions of authority, bureaucrats often establish client support networks. Military groups may be influential interest aggregators due to their unique ability to direct physical force.