Interest Group and Lobbying Research in an Integrative Perspective: Building Bridges Across the Discipline
Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Interest Groups
Over the past decades the European interest group field has grown from a small niche with only a few active scholars working on lobbying, to a vibrant community of over 150 scholars. Substantially the field has also evolved: In the early days scholars were mostly focussed on questions of collective action, whereas the interest group literature today contains the full range of interest group activities (mobilization, survival, and strategies) and its effects on the policy process and on political outcomes at national and transnational level. This has resulted in a broader range of theoretical perspectives, firmly rooted in empirical research, describing the role and impact of interest groups in political processes.
Based on this theoretically and empirically valuable work by interest group scholars, an important next step is to ask how lobbying research can increasingly speak to, and be integrated in, other fields in political science. This is important and valuable, because lobbying occurs at all levels of governance (national, international, subnational), and addresses various political institutions, the public and media debate, with potential effects on a diverse set of actors, their interactions and political outcomes. Therefore, it is the aim of this Section to focus on the embeddedness of interest group research in the larger discipline of political science and to flesh out its contributions and links to various subfields within
Over the past years many successful initiatives have already been taken to explore such connections. For instance, several authors have linked interest group studies to other fields, such as political economy (Dür and Bièvre 2007; Bernhagen and Mitchell 2009), responsiveness and public opinion (Flöthe and Rasmussen 2018; Giger and Klüver 2016; Rasmussen, Mäder, and Reher 2018), political parties (Wonka 2017; Otjes and Rasmussen 2017), organizational development (Halpin and Jordan 2009; Fraussen 2014), bureaucratic politics (Braun 2012), political communication (Binderkrantz 2012; De Bruycker and Beyers 2015; Junk and Rasmussen 2018), social movements (Berkhout & Hanegraaff 2017; Hanegraaff et al. 2016), political agenda setting (Baumgartner et al. 2009), questions of legitimacy and regulatory quality (Kohler-Koch 2010, Bunea 2017), and many more. This section provides the opportunity to consolidate and deepen these emerging research agendas and explore new bridges to other fields. More broadly, the section also welcomes reflections on broader themes and theories in political science and how the interest group field can contribute to these theories, such as European Integration, Euroscepticism, the rise of the far right, and the future of the European Union.
Papers will look at these proposed relationships from a theoretical, empirical and/or normative perspective. The section seeks to involve an international community of scholars that encompasses leading scholars and early career researchers, as well as researchers from different parts of Europe or other regions.