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Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

15. Interest groups  

Roland Erne

This chapter examines the role that interest groups play in political systems across time and space. Many scholars define interest groups as voluntary organizations that appeal to government but do not participate in elections. In a comparative context, however, this formal definition is problematic as the form of interest representation varies across countries. An alternative suggestion is to distinguish ‘public’ and ‘private interest groups’, but the term ‘public interest’ is problematic because of its contentious nature. The chapter begins with a review of different definitions of interest groups and the problems associated with each. It then considers the legacies of competing theoretical traditions in the field, namely republicanism, pluralism, and neocorporatism. It also discusses the role of interest associations in practice, distinguishing different types of action that are available to different groups, including direct lobbying, political exchange, contentious politics, and private interest government.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

14. Interest Groups  

Roland Erne

This chapter examines the role that interest groups play in political systems across time and space. Many scholars define interest groups as voluntary organizations that appeal to government but do not participate in elections. In a comparative context, however, this formal definition is problematic as the form of interest representation varies across countries. An alternative suggestion is to distinguish ‘public’ and ‘private interest groups’, but the term ‘public interest’ is problematic because of its contentious nature. The chapter begins with a review of different definitions of interest groups and the problems associated with each. It then considers the legacies of competing theoretical traditions in the field, namely republicanism, pluralism, and neocorporatism. It also discusses the role of interest associations in practice, distinguishing different types of action that are available to different groups, including direct lobbying, political exchange, contentious politics, and private interest government.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

14. Interest Groups and the European Union  

Rainer Eising and Julia Sollik

This chapter examines the role of interest groups in European Union (EU) politics. It also considers the way in which the EU institutions influence interest group structures and activities. The chapter begins with an overview of the relationship between the EU institutions and interest groups and the proceddures of lobbying before examining the steps taken thus far to regulate that relationship. It then looks at the evolution and the structure of the interest group system, focusing in particular on two salient aspects: the difference between national and EU organizations; and the difference between specific and diffuse interests.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

16. The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions:  

consultative institutions in a multichannel democracy

Gabriele Abels

This chapter investigates the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR), two bodies established in 1957 and 1992, respectively. Both Committees are consultative; their rationale is to provide expertise to EU legislators and to represent functional respectively territorial interests. These organs share a number of similarities with regard to their legal basis and policymaking influence. Both have pursued diverse activities beyond their official mandates in a quest to find their own identities and exercise voice in the EU system. This chapter analyses these committees with regard to their development, membership, and activities, illustrating how both embraced timely topics and seek to involve themselves in the larger debate on the future of Europe. Thereby, they contribute to the EU’s development as a complex, multilevel, and multichannel democracy.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

17. Organized Interests  

This chapter focuses on the so-called organized interests, whose interaction with the formal European Union (EU) institutions is a central component of the EU’s decision-making process. The term ‘interest group’ refers to a range of organizations outside of the formal institutions that seek to influence decision making. They provide a link between state actors and the rest of society, also known as ‘civil society’. The chapter first considers the general growth of interest group activity at the European level before discussing the types of group that try to influence EU policy making and the forms of representation open to interests. It then explores the strategies and tactics that interest groups use to try to influence the different institutions. Finally, it analyses the issue of regulating interest group access to the EU institutions.

Chapter

Cover Foundations of European Politics

11. Law-Making in Governments and Parliaments  

This chapter explores how political systems across Europe actually make policy and also how they change policy. It examines in detail how coalitions are formed and looks at how coalitions function. The chapter uses the theoretical lens of the Veto Players theory to consider how the nature of governments, and parties within governments, affect the type of policies that become law. It also looks at the ease with which governments can change existing policy. The chapter moves on to address the role of informal actors such as interest groups. Processes differ across different countries and at the European Union (EU) level and that is examined in this chapter as well.

Chapter

Cover Foundations of European Politics

12. Policy Outcomes in Europe  

This chapter explores policy outcomes by looking at a number of European countries. It considers some salient policy areas, including those that are decided primarily at the national level, for example health, and policies that are determined at the more macro, European Union (EU) level, for example trade. It also looks at policy areas that involve shared decision-making across different levels of government, examples here include immigration and the environment. The chapter also focuses on the role of position-taking by political parties and other groups, such as interest groups and social groups or movements. It considers how these explain variations in policy outcomes.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

Introduction: US foreign policy—past, present, and future  

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

This edition provides an account of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. There are at least five broad themes that inform the text. The first is the importance of the past for understanding the present. The second concerns the complex relationship between foreign policy and America’s longer-term goals and interests. Policy makers have assumed that the international order that would best advance American interests would be composed primarily of democratic states, open markets, and self-determining nations. The third theme is the importance of the ‘domestic’ in shaping U.S. foreign policy choices, including factors such as interest groups, the role of institutions, and the power of ideas. The fourth theme relates to the issue of perspective or ‘balance’, and the fifth and final theme refers to the fact that whatever one might think of the United States past, present, or future, it is simply too important to be ignored.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

14. The Committee of Permanent Representatives:  

integrating interests and the logics of action

Jeffrey Lewis

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) originated as a diplomatic forum to meet regularly and prepare meetings of the Council of Ministers. It quickly and quietly evolved into a locus of continuous negotiation and de facto decision-making, gaining a reputation as ‘the place to do the deal’. This reputation is based on insulation from domestic audiences and an unrivalled ability to make deals stick across a range of issue areas and policy subjects. Most importantly, Coreper spotlights the process of integrating interests in a collective decision-making system with its own organizational culture, norms, and style of discourse. In actual operation, the Committee has much to offer institutional theorizing, as multiple ‘logics’ of action are discernible and often complexly entwined.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

4. Neo-functionalism  

Carsten Strøby Jensen

This chapter reviews a theoretical position, neo-functionalism, which was developed in the mid-1950s by scholars based in the United States. The fundamental argument of the theory is that states are not the only important actors on the international scene. As a consequence, neo-functionalists focus their attention on the role of supranational institutions and non-state actors, such as interest groups and political parties, who, they argue, are the real driving force behind integration efforts. The chapter that follows provides an introduction to the main features of neo-functionalist theory, its historical development since the 1950s, and how neo-functionalism is used today.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

11. Identities and US foreign policy  

Christina Rowley and Jutta Weldes

This chapter examines the role of identity in constructing U.S. foreign policy. Using a critical social constructivist approach, it argues that particular conceptions of U.S. identity constitute U.S. interests, thus providing the foundations for foreign policy. After providing an overview of the influence of interests on foreign policy, the chapter considers the basic assumptions of critical social constructivism, taking into account the social construction of reality and the concepts of discourse and articulation. It then analyses discourses as sites of power, identity, and representation, along with the importance of identity in U.S. foreign policy. It also looks at U.S. presidents’ articulations of state identity and foreign policy over the last six decades.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

22. The future of US foreign policy  

Anatol Lieven

This chapter examines possible futures for American foreign policy in terms of the interests and ideology of the U.S. elites (and to a lesser extent the population at large), the structures of U.S. political life, and the real or perceived national interests of the United States. It first provides an overview of the ideological roots of U.S. foreign policy before discussing key contemporary challenges for U.S. foreign policy. In particular, it considers American relations with China, how to mobilize U.S. military power for foreign policy goals, and the issue of foreign aid. The chapter proceeds by analysing the most important features of America’s future foreign policies, focusing on the Middle East, the Far East, Russia and the former Soviet Union, and Europe and the transatlantic relationship. It concludes by describing some catastrophic scenarios that could accelerate the decline of US power.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

9. Regional shifts and US foreign policy  

Peter Trubowitz

This chapter examines the impact of regionalism on U.S. foreign policy. In contrast to accounts that grant primacy to ideas or institutions, it argues that America’s regional diversity is the most important source of tension and conflict over foreign policy. It also shows that conflicts over the purposes of American power, as well as the constitutional authority to exercise it, are fundamentally conflicts over the distribution of wealth and power in American society among coalitions with divergent interests and claims on the federal government’s resources. The chapter develops this argument by analysing debates over American foreign policy in three different periods: the 1890s, the 1930s, and the current era. After discussing the link between regional interests and foreign policy, the chapter considers the great debate over expansionism, the struggle over internationalism, and American primacy and the ‘new sectionalism’.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

18. Political participation  

Herbert Kitschelt and Philipp Rehm

This chapter examines four fundamental topics relating to political participation. First, it considers different modes of political participation such as social movements, interest groups, and political parties. Second, it analyses the determinants of political participation, focusing in particular on the paradox of collective action. Third, it explains political participation at the macro level in order to identify which contextual conditions are conducive to participation and the role of economic affluence in political participation. Finally, the chapter discusses political participation at the micro level. It shows that both formal associations and informal social networks, configured around family and friendship ties, supplement individual capacities to engage in political participation or compensate for weak capacities, so as to boost an individual’s probability to become politically active.

Chapter

Cover The Member States of the European Union

15. The Europeanization of Interest Groups and Social Movements  

Sabine Saurugger

This chapter examines the dynamics of Europeanization of interest groups and social movements in European Union member states. European integration has influenced interest groups and social movements since the beginning of the process in the 1950s. However, transformation has been induced by other elements such as globalization or the transformation of the state. Drawing on findings from empirical studies, this chapter analyses the change in interests, strategies, and internal organizational structures of interest groups and social movements, both in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ member states. It shows that the Europeanization of interest groups and social movements is highly differentiated, according to public policy areas, group types, and national origins. It concludes in analysing more recent developments such as interest group and social movement reactions to austerity politics as well as Brexit.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

18. Political Participation  

Herbert Kitschelt and Philipp Rehm

This chapter examines four fundamental questions relating to political participation. First, it considers different modes of political participation such as social movements, interest groups, and political parties. Second, it analyses the determinants of political participation, focusing in particular on the paradox of collective action. Third, it explains political participation at the macro-level in order to identify which contextual conditions are conducive to participation and the role of economic affluence in political participation. Finally, the chapter discusses political participation at the micro-level. It shows that both formal associations and informal social networks, configured around family and friendship ties, supplement individual capacities to engage in political participation or compensate for weak capacities, so as to boost an individual’s probability to become politically active.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

12. Political Parties  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter deals with political parties: why they emerged, how they can be classified, what functions they perform, how they interact, and what challenges they are facing today. One of the paradoxes about democracies is that there is almost a unanimous consensus about the indispensability of political parties. On the other hand, the benefits of being a member of a political party are bound to be minuscule compared to the costs of membership. Thus it is irrational for people to join parties. They should only form (small) interest groups. The chapter first provides a historical background on the development of political parties before discussing their functions, such as legitimation of the political system, structuring the popular vote, and formulation of public policy. It then considers different types of political parties as well as the characteristics of party systems and concludes with an analysis of the problems facing political parties today.

Chapter

Cover UK Politics

13. The UK and the outside world  

This chapter starts by asking what are the things that a community regards as fundamental to the well-being of its citizens? They could be economic prosperity, security, or a stable environment. However, a state doesn’t exist in isolation. There is an outside world with which it has to interact with. This chapter explains how both the decisions that the UK takes about external policy and the way in which it takes them are subjects of intense interest and sometimes even controversy. They have consequences for the outside world as well as for the UK. These are two spheres that cannot be totally separated. An important question related to this discussion is: how far should external policy involve the self-interest of the UK? How far should we take into account our wider responsibilities as members of the global community? What powers can the UK wield internationally? To what extend is external policy subject to democratic accountability?

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

25. MPs and their Constituencies  

David Judge and Rebecca Partos

This chapter examines what ‘constituency’ means for Members of Parliament (MPs) and their local electorates, and how perceptions of locality affect the work of MPs and the expectations of their constituents. As the representatives of their respective geographical areas, MPs bring the opinions, concerns, and tribulations of their constituents into the workings of the UK Parliament. Such representational work is ofen overlooked or ignored by outside observers and commentators, but it provides a necessary ‘reality check’ for all MPs that links them to the lives of those they are elected to represent. The chapter first provides an overview of MPs as representatives of territorially defined constituencies and of ‘communities of interest’ before discussing ‘constituencies’ within constituencies. It also considers how constituents make sense of parliamentary constituencies and their connection to their representatives by invoking notions of ‘locality’. It shows that constituency work and parliamentary work are often counterposed.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

12. Political Parties  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter deals with political parties: why they emerged, how they can be classified, what functions they perform, how they interact, and what challenges they are facing today. One of the paradoxes about democracies is that there is almost a unanimous consensus about the indispensability of political parties. On the other hand, the benefits of being a member of a political party are bound to be minuscule compared to the costs of membership. Thus it is irrational for people to join parties. They should only form (small) interest groups. The chapter first provides a historical background on the development of political parties before discussing their functions, such as legitimation of the political system, structuring the popular vote, and formulation of public policy. It then considers different types of political parties as well as the characteristics of party systems and concludes with an analysis of the problems facing political parties today.