nl en

Interest representation


Interest representation


This course will examine the role of interest organizations in all of their varied forms – social movements, institutions, associations, and membership groups – in politics different levels. In doing so, we will examine theories and empirical research on how organized interests organize in the first place, are governed internally, enter and then interact with each other within populations or interest communities, and seek to influence government policy through lobbying legislatures and executives. Our analysis will be intentionally comparative and consider the range of interest systems found in democratic political systems running from neo-corporatist to pluralist systems. Special attention will be devoted to the EU and US political systems. Throughout the course, we will seek to determine if organized interests ultimately undermine or facilitate the play of democratic politics.

Course objectives

The objective of the course is to become familiar with the full range of issues about the politics of organized interests in both pluralist and neo-corporatist political systems. Moreover, by involving students actively in the lectures, the course also aims at building up their academic skills and skills in social science research in general.

Mode of instruction

The course will be conducted through a mix of lecture and discussion, with an emphasis on the latter. Students are expected to contribute significantly to these discussions based on regular attendance and prior reading of all class assignments.

Assessment method

Regular attendance is required. Grading is based on in-class presentations (30 per cent), participation in class discussions (20 per cent), and a take home exam (24 hours) where students pick one essay question from a list of questions that cut across the discussed class topics (50 per cent). Passing the take home exam (5.5) is a precondition for passing the seminar.

Reading list/Literature

Two texts are assigned for the course and are listed below. The third text listed below is not required, but students may find it a useful supplement to the material covered in the course. However, much of our reading will be the professional journal literature on organized interests, something that is especially true for the literature on European interest systems. Several articles per week will be assigned, with significantly more articles assigned for research masters students than for one-year master students.

  • David Lowery and Holly Brasher. 2004. Organized Interests and American Government. Boston, Massachusetts: McGraw Hill.

  • Christine Mahoney, 2008. Brussels versus the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

  • Frank R. Baumgartner and Beth Leech, 1998. Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Instructor uses Blackboard. This page is available from of a week before the course commences.



Remarks / Preparation for first session

Students should prepare the following readings for the first session:

  • Lowery, D. & Brasher, H. (2004) Organized Interests and American Government, New York, McGraw Hill, Chapter 1.

  • Baumgartner, F. R. & Leech, B. (1998) Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science, Princeton, Princeton University Press, Chapters 1, 2.

  • Hojnacki, M., Kimball, D. C., Baumgartner, F. R., Berry, J. M. & Leech, B. L. (2012) Studying Organizational Advocacy and Influence: Reexamining Interest Group Research. Annual review of political science, download at:

  • Siaroff, A. (1999) Corporatism in 24 Industrial Democracies: Meaning and Measurement. 36, 175–205.


The (provisional) timetable is on the this page