any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their cause. It could be a policy that exclusively benefits group members or one segment of society (e.g., government subsidies for farmers) or a policy that advances a broader public purpose (e.g., improving air quality). Interest groups are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interests that exist in all societies, from the narrowest groups such as the Japan Eraser Manufacturers Association to broader groups such as the AFL-CIO to very broad organizations such as the military in authoritarian countries. Interest groups exist at all levels of governmentnational, state, provincial, and localand increasingly they have occupied an important role in international affairs.