Interest organizations have always assumed a prominent place in European politics because they link states with citizens, institutionalize the resolution of social conflicts, regulate important sectors of the economy and society, contribute to workable policy outcomes and socialize members into democratic politics. However, the plethora of interest group studies that exist have not consolidated our understanding of these actors. These analyses have been subject to the vagaries of different theoretical perspectives and vary greatly in their conceptual and methodological frameworks. Consequently, a not always complementary and fragmented series of findings has emerged.
This book is a systematic and comprehensive effort at investigating and integrating the state of the art in European interest group research. Combining the analysis of interest group politics in the EU with the comparative study of interest organizations, the book seeks to identify the areas about which there is consolidated knowledge, that are marked by controversies, in which considerable uncertainty exists, that have been omitted from research programs and that ought to be part of future studies. Thereby, it provides a general reflection on how the study of interest group politics can be improved by linking it to the comparative study of governance.
This book was published as a special issue of West European Politics.
Concepts and Themes 1. Researching Interest Group Politics in Europe and Elsewhere: Much We Study, Little We Know? Jan Beyers, Rainer Eising and William Maloney Institutions and Interest Groups 2. Opportunity Structures in the EU Multi-Level System Sebastiaan Princen and Bart Kerremans 3. ‘Enlargement Waves’ and Interest Group Participation in the EU Policy-Making System: Establishing a Framework of Analysis Spyros Blavoukos and George Pagoulatos Logics, Patterns and Power 4. Clientelism, Committees, Pluralism and Protests in the European Union: Matching Patterns? Rainer Eising 5. Policy Issues, Organisational Format and the Political Strategies of Interest Organisations Jan Beyers 6. Interest Groups in the European Union: How Powerful Are They? Andreas Dür Comparative and Normative Perspectives 7. The European Interest System in Comparative Perspective: A Bridge Too Far? David Lowery, Caelesta Poppelaars and Joost Berkhout 8. Converging Perspectives on Interest Group Research in Europe and America Christine Mahoney and Frank Baumgartner 9. Interest Groups and Democracy in the European Union Sabine Saurugger 10. Conclusion: Embedding Interest Group Research Jan Beyers, Rainer Eising and William Maloney