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Project Information

The Occupational Field of European Lobbying

Structure and development of professional interest representation at the European Union 

Project Objectives

Lobbying is part of the political reality of the European Union (EU) and has received much public and academic attention. Previous research has assembled considerable knowledge about interest groups, organizations and organizational forms, and it has analysed ways of influence-taking and the structures of power within the field. However, until now, we knew rather little about the lobbyists themselves, their professional background, their career patterns, their professional beliefs and their identities. Our project aims to shed systematic light into this area of analysis by answering a number of core questions:

  • Are the personnel working in the area of European public affairs and interest representation marked primarily by diversity (e.g., occupations, language groups, national legacies), or do they have certain traits in common (e.g., skills, contacts, identities)?
  • Is their work patterned by similar standards, working routines and forms of knowledge, or do differences and disagreements prevail?
  • What are the consequences of these realities for the personnel themselves and the field of interest groups they work for?

Data and Methods

The research of this project is organized as a multi-stage work-plan. It consists of three major work packages devoted to generating three different types of data:

  • Our project started with an analysis of the institutional contexts of EU lobbying. Here, we collected available data on various contextual factors: employers and clients, EU institutions and regulations, educational institutions and forms of vocational training, mass media attention and news coverage and professional associations.
  • Our empirical analyses made use of an extended fieldwork in Brussels. This research builds on participant observation; that is, we participated actively in the daily working routines, meetings and conferences. We thus gathered a set of materials (field notes and interview transcripts) that provides rich insights into the practices, skills and identities of EU public affairs professionals.
  • These research insights were used to prepare a standardized survey among EU lobbyists that is currently implemented. The survey wishes to assemble systematic data on the lobbyists’ professional backgrounds, current activities, skills, contacts, attitudes and identities. The sample was drawn from the European Transparency Register and other sources. The survey is being conducted by the German ‘Sozialwissenschaftliches Umfragezentrum’ (SUZ), on behalf of the University of Siegen and conforms to the highest scientific and regulatory standards.

Further Information on the Project

Research staff Prof. Dr. Christian Lahusen and Frank Borchers (M.A.), both University of Siegen
Funding German Research Council (‘Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft’), Grant Agreement No. LA 1117/6-1
Duration May 2014 – April 2017

Previous Publications

Lahusen, C. (2013). "Law and lawyers in Brussels’ world of commercial consultants". In: Antoine Vauchez und Bruno de Witte (eds.), Lawyering Europe. European law as a transnational field (pp. 177-194). Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Lahusen, C. (2006). "European integration and civil societies: between advocacy networks and service markets". In: Maurizio Bach, Christian Lahusen and Georg Vobruba (eds.), Europe in Motion. Social Dynamics and Political Institutions in an Enlarging Europe (pp. 119-139). Berlin: Edition Sigma.

Lahusen, C. (2004). "Joining the cocktail-circuit: Social movement organizations at the European Union". Mobilization, 9 (1) pp. 55-71.

Lahusen, C. (2003). "Moving into the European Orbit: Commercial Consultants in the European Union". European Union Politics, 4 (2) pp. 191-218.

Lahusen, C. and C. Jauß (2001). Lobbying als Beruf. Interessengruppen in der Europäischen Union. [Lobbying as a Profession. Interest Groups at the European Union.] Baden-Baden: Nomos.

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