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Interest representation



This course examines the role of interest organizations in all of their forms – social movements, institutions, associations, and membership groups containing citizens in some role – in politics. We consider theories and empirical research on how interests organize in the first place, how they are governed internally, enter the stage and interact with each other within populations or interest ‘communities’, and then seek to influence government policy. Special attention will be devoted to the EU and US political systems, to see how much they differ or are similar. Throughout the course, a question also is whether interest groups actually undermine or strengthen the play of democratic politics. The main objective of the course is to become familiar with the full range of issues about the politics of organized interests. Moreover, by involving you, the students, actively in the sessions, the course also aims at building up the portfolio of academic skills, to be used when entering professional life.

Learning objectives

This course aims to enlarge your conceptual, integrative and reflective skills when analyzing processes and outcomes of interest representation. After successfully completing this course, you are able to:

  1. Understand what advocacy is and what strategies interest organizations can use for this.
    1. Explain under which conditions interest organizations get access to policymakers.
    2. Understand the effects on policy and the consequences for democratic representation.



Methods of instruction

This course consists of workgroup sessions, self study and a presentation.

Study load

Total 140 hrs, of which:
28 contact hours, 70 self-study hours, 4 presentation preparation hours, 38 final exam paper writing hours

Method of assessment

Grading is based on in-class presentations (20%), participation in class discussions (20%), and a written paper at the end (60%). A minimum score for the paper of 5.5 is a precondition for passing the course.


Yes, one week before the start of the course

Other course materials/literature

The book used in this course:
Christine Mahoney (2008) Brussels Versus the Beltway. Advocacy in the United States and the European Union. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

In addition, reading material will be made available or listed, in all cases with literature available through the library.


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.

The course is only available for students of the MSc Public Administration. This is a specialization seminar for students from the IEG track. To ensure quality of teaching, we limit the number of students in it to 35. Students from another track (PM or GM) who would like to take this course an an elective, please note you need to ask the lecturer per e-mail. You may be asked to take another course if the seminar is full.


Prof. dr. Arco Timmermans, Schouwburgstraat 2, room B 104, email phone 070 527 3786