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The University of Southampton

PAIR3046 Comparative Lobbying and Interest Groups Politics

Module Overview

In democratic political systems, interest groups are widely perceived as channels of societal representation of policy demands and key actors of effective problem-solving and implementation of legislation. The course examines the role of interest groups’ lobbying activities across institutional branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) and policymaking stages (agenda-setting, policy formulation, decision-making and implementation) in national and supranational decision-making. The course examines the theories and research methodologies currently employed in the literature for the systematic, scientific study of key aspects of lobbying and interest groups’ activities such as levels and methods of lobbying success and policy influence, advocacy coalition formation and the regulation of lobbying activities. Throughout the course, a comparative theoretical and empirical perspective is employed and lobbying and interest groups’ activities are examined across different political systems such as the United States, Canada, the European Union and EU Member States. This comparative approach will be reflected directly in the readings assigned for each class.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce students to core concepts and theories in the eld of comparative lobbying and interest groups' participation in politics and policymaking. • Familiarise students with the main methodological approaches employed to empirical study interest groups' lobbying activities across democratic political systems. • Develop students' knowledge and understanding of the role of private actors in political decision-making and public policymaking across systems of government. • Develop students' analytical skills and critical assessment of contemporary politics and policymaking.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of core concepts and theories in the field of comparative lobbying and interest groups
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the main methodological approaches to the empirical study of interest groups lobbying activities across democratic systems of government
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the role of private actors in political decision-making and public policymaking across democratic systems of government
  • Use analytical skills to critically assess contemporary politics and policymaking
  • Explain the role of interest groups and lobbying in national and supranational level decision-making processes in a systematic, social-scientific way
  • Critically evaluate the usefulness of different theoretical approaches to the study of key aspects of lobbying across different system of governance
  • Assess the appropriateness of different research methodologies to the empirical study of different aspects of lobbying
  • Examine interest groups’ political activities in the context of broader theories of interest intermediation and representation in democratic systems of government
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the practical aspects of lobbying and interest groups’ political activities across political systems


Week 1: Interest groups and lobbying: definitions Week 2: Systems of interest representation: pluralism versus corporatism Week 3: Lobbying strategies Week 4: Lobbying success Week 5: Regulating lobbying Week 6: Executive lobbying Week 7: Legislative lobbying Week 8: Interest groups and political parties Week 9: Lobbying in the US and the United Kingdom Week 10: Lobbying the European Union Week 11: Lobbying in the EU Member States Week 12: Lobbying as a profession & revision session

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course is delivered by a combination of lectures and fortnightly 1-hour seminars. Each student will have 2 weekly contact hours.

Preparation for scheduled sessions39
Completion of assessment task82
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Coen D, Katsaitis A Chameleon pluralism in the EU: an empirical study of the European Commission interest group density and diversity across policy domains. Journal of European. , pp. 1104-1119.

Dur A, Bernhagen P, Marshall D (2015). Interest Groups Success in the European Union: When (and Why) Does Business Lose?. Comparative Political Studies. , pp. 951-983.

Greenwood J, Dreger J (2013). The Transparency Register: A European vanguard of strong lobby regulation?. Interest Groups and Advocacy. , pp. 139-162..

Lowery D et al. (2015). Images of an unbiased interest system. Journal of European Public Policy. , pp. 1212-1231.

Althaus M (2015). Recruiting the competent lobbyist: Career options and employer demands in Germany.  Interest Groups and Advocacy. , pp. 76-100.

Beyers J (2004). Voice and Access. Political Practices of European Interest Associations. European Union Politics. , pp. 211-240.

Obradovic D (2009). Regulating Lobbying in the European Union in - Lobbying the European Union: Institutions, Actors and Issues. 

Kluver H (2011). The contextual nature of lobbying: Explaining lobbying success in the European Union. European Union Politics. , pp. 483-506.

Eising R (2004). Multilevel Governance and Business Interests in the European Union. 

Wippersberg J, Wagner N, Lojka K (2015). An academic program for public affairs in Austria. Interest Groups and Advocacy. , pp. 52-64.

Measuring Interest Group Influence in the EU: A note on Methodology. European Union Politics. , pp. 559-576..

Bunea A, Ibenskas R (2015). Quantitative text analyses and the study of EU lobbying 
and interest groups. European Union Politics. , pp. 429-455.

Bernhagen P, Dur A, Marshall D (2014). Measuring lobbying success spatially.. Interest Groups and Advocacy. , pp. 202-218.

Bouwen P (2002). Corporate lobbying in the European Union: the logic of access. Journal of European Public Policy. , pp. 365-390.

Baroni L, Caroll B.J, Chalmers A.W, Munoz Marquez L.M, Rasmussen A (2014). 'Defining and classifying interest groups' Interest Groups and Advocacy. 

Eising R (2007). Institutional Context, Organizational Resources and Strategic Choices: Explaining nterest Group Access in the European Union. European Union Politics. , pp. 329-362.

Mahoney C (2007). Networking vs. allying: the decision of interest groups to join coalitions in the US and the EU. Journal of European Public Policy. , pp. 366-383.

Chalmers A.W (2013). Trading information for access: informational lobbying strategies and interest group access to the European Union. Journal of European Public Policy. , pp. 39-58.

Kluver H (2009). Measuring Interest Group Influence Using Quantitative Text Analysis. European Union Politics. , pp. 535-549.

Mahoney C (2007). Lobbying Success in the United States and the European Union. Journal of Public Policy. , pp. 35-56.

Woll C (2012). The brash and the soft-spoken: Lobbying styles in a transatlantic comparison. Interest Groups and Advocacy. , pp. 193-214.

Holyoke T.T, Brown H, LaPira T.M (2015). Learnable skills, or unteachable instinct? What can and what cannot be taught in the lobbying profession. nterest Groups and Advocacy. , pp. 7-24.

Bunea A (2013). Issues, preferences and ties: determinants of interest groups’ preference attainment in the EU environmental policy. Journal of European Public Policy. , pp. 552-570.



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 40%
Research Paper/Report  (3000 words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: PAIR1002

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