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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 Democratization

11. Social Capital and Civil Society  

Natalia Letki

This chapter examines the role of civil society and social capital in democratization processes. It begins by reconstructing the definitions of civil society and social capital in the context of political change, followed by an analysis of the ways in which civil society and social capital are functional for the initiation and consolidation of democracies. It then considers the relationship between civil society and attitudes of trust and reciprocity, the function of networks and associations in democratization, paradoxes of civil society and social capital in new democracies, and the main arguments cast against the idea that civic activism and attitudes are a necessary precondition for a modern democracy. The chapter argues that civil society and social capital and their relation to political and economic institutions are context specific.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

7. The International Context  

Hakan Yilmaz

This chapter examines the major theoretical approaches to the issue of the international context of democratization. In particular, it considers democratization by means of ‘convergence’, ‘system penetration’, ‘internationalization of domestic politics’, and ‘diffusion’. It also discusses the principal dimensions of the international context, namely, the democracy promotion strategies of the United States and the European Union. The term ‘conditionality’ is used to describe the democracy promotion strategy of the EU. In the case of the United States, its leverage with respect to democracy promotion has been undermined by its military intervention and violation of human rights. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the effects of globalization and the formation of a global civil society on democratization.