Networks of Power
Formal and informal networks of power always tightly interrelate with each other. Their interrelations may be different since formal and informal networks either support or oppose each other. They have almost similar purposes and targets, although their nature and ways of conduction are completely opposite. Informal networks of power are directly dependent on formal networks.
Informal networks can act only in cooperation with formal networks of power. They impact formal networks in numerous ways in order to reach their goals. Although formal networks are supposed to control and regulate the activity of informal networks of power, it often appears that they are not able to control the influence of informal networks. It creates a system of pluralism, where not only government can make decisions and form state policy. Although informal networks of power are aimed at the promotion of interests of definite groups of people with common interests and concerns, they are not able to do it without support of formal networks, which have needed resources and powers. At the same time, numerous ways of influence on the public and formal networks of power allows informal networks to achieve their goals. Only close collaboration with formal networks of power allows them to change legislation for their own benefit and shift state policy for reaching their aims.
Informal networks of power influence all levels of government from the national to local one. Some informal networks of power may involve both national and state governments. It is especially evident in case of powerful groups of interest, which are aimed at state policy changing, but also participate national government in order to provide the support at the highest level in the country. The interest groups have their representatives at public offices and legislative bodes who defend their interests. For instance, it is related to powerful interest groups in Texas, where their powers are almost unlimited. Texas groups of interest have a great impact on forming the state policy in different issues starting from education and ending with energy industry. At the same time, in order to defend their interests at the national level, members of interest groups are involved in political parties and public offices. Additionally, the informal networks of power are not specifically based on political purposes; they can be also ideological, religious, military or economic.
The power and public support of some informal networks of power, such as interest groups allows them influence the elections. Any informal network, which desires to get some extensive rights and benefits, needs its representative at public office. For this reason, during the elections to any public office, informal networks become involved in the political campaigns of different candidates. For instance, groups of interest organize meetings and buy advertisement broadcasting in order to support their candidate who, in turn, would promote their interests, assuming that he will be elected. Such support is not always limited by the state but also can be provided on the national level. The level of influence depends on the amount of resources, money, and power of an interest group. For all informal networks of power, their human and financial resources have a crucial role as the small informal networks can be even unable to influence local governments, while the most powerful ones can have a considerable effect on the national government. For instance, it may be related to the informal networks, which influence on the government during public purchases and effect on their decision making at public tenders. It is mostly evident in goverrnment military purchases where the better and cheaper weapons or equipment can lose the tender to the most expensive one with the worst technical characteristics.
However, speaking about interest groups as informal networks of power, one should not neglect the role of government in these schemes. Being a formal network government also apply informal measures, which are not regulated by the Constitution. It is mostly related to special agencies controlled by the government such as the CIA, NSA, etc. Their activity is often secret, which allows them to use informal methods of power. Sometimes, these methods are not constitutional or even violate citizen rights and freedoms. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service, which monitored personal information and private activities of Americans, operated without any search warrants. It was a direct violation of Americans’ right to privacy, although the government did not inform anybody about it until Edward Snowden revealed information about the IRS. At the same time, American government is not the only formal network of power in the world that uses informal powers. The use of the IRS is an example of how formal networks of power may take informal measures.
Usually, the influence of informal networks of power is not always clear and evident, but they still have a crucial role in decision-making of the formal networks. Both informal and formal networks of power often cooperate with each other for the mutual benefits. Their collaboration may be observed at local, state, and national levels of government, and it is mostly depends on the power and influence of an informal network. At the same time, not only informal networks take informal measures of power as even the national government may come to evasion of formal laws in order to achieve unconstitutional targets.