Civil Society, Lobbying and Policy Influence in the EU
Full course description
This course provides students with the knowledge to better understand and critically reﬂect on contemporary European civil society, movements and interest groups. Building on insights from political theory, political science and sociology the course discusses bottom-up forms of protest by grassroots movements as well as more professionalized and ‘quiet’ forms of advocacy or lobbying. The first week focuses on conceptualizing what civil society is or should be. We reflect on civil society’s role in strengthening (or weakening) democratic decision making from contrasting theoretical and philosophical perspectives. The second week focuses on how private interests try to shape policy through ‘quiet politics’ or lobbying. We explore the mobilization patterns, action repertoires and influence of advocacy organizations in the EU. We discuss how lobbying is regulated and how the European Commission tries to involve or even shape societal interests and foster a level playing field. The third week focuses on the role of ‘noisy politics’ and protest in EU public policy. We examine how social movements and civil society organisations navigate the EU’s complex and opaque multi-level maze. We analyse whether, how and when more antagonistic strategies can impact policy decisions. Students approach these topics from both an academic and hands-on perspective through lectures, tutorials, (peer-)review seminars, skill sessions and practical assignments. For the skills training, students present a policy brief on behalf of a civil society organisation of their choosing, as part of the European Commission’s ongoing online consultations.
- Understand the role of civil society, protest movements and advocacy groups in strengthening or weakening democracy in the EU and form a judgment on scholarly arguments and empirical research on the topic;
- Apply relevant conceptual and theoretical approaches from political theory and comparative politics, including the concepts of power, inﬂuence, strategies and opportunity structures, and the appropriate research methods to answer advanced academic questions on the role of civil society in EU public policy;
- Reach well-reasoned conclusions about civil society, advocacy groups and social movements through integrating substantive knowledge, theories and methods, and making use of sources and data to build evidence- based arguments, while reﬂecting on the societal and ethical implications of those conclusions;
- Express ideas and research ﬁndings on civil society, advocacy groups and protest movements in EU Public Policy to specialist European and international (academic) audiences in written academic English through the medium of an academic paper and a policy brief;
- Autonomously generate new ideas and research questions on civil society, advocacy groups and protest movements, make substantive choices when analysing these questions, while setting priorities and a work plan within the short timeframe of the course;
- Participate in scholarly and policy debates on civil society, advocacy groups and protest movements in EU public policy, within the international PBL classroom, as well as function in a group setting and work in an international professional environment.
Culpepper, P. D. (2010). Quiet politics and business power: Corporate control in Europe and Japan. Cambridge University Press.
Mahoney, C. (2008). Brussels versus the beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union. Georgetown University Press.
Parks, L. (2015). Social movement campaigns on EU policy: In the corridors and in the streets. Springer.