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The mobilisation of organised interests in policy making: access, activity and bias in the 'group system'.

Halpin, Darren; Baxter, Graeme


Darren Halpin

Graeme Baxter


What organized interests are mobilized in influencing public policy? What does the map of organised interests - the 'group system' - look like? This has been a central concern in political science for decades. The reason for this preoccupation is clear. As Schlozman (2009) succinctly notes '...since organized interests are so important in informing public officials about the preferences and needs of stakeholders in political controversies and about how policies affect their lives and fortunes, the shape of the organized interest community matters crucially for the equal protection of citizen interests'. This broad area of scholarly endeavour has settled into a set of more or less well established focal points. Following Schattschneider (1960), there has been a consistent finding of a 'business bias' in the 'group system'. Others have focussed upon the declining centrality of 'producer' interests to policy making: suggesting that there is a 'hollow core' to policy communities (Heinz et al. 1993). It has been argued that the group system is characterised by the growth of niche or specialised policy actors. These propositions and questions have rarely been explored empirically in quantitative studies outside of the US, and certainly not for the UK or Scotland.


HALPIN, D. and BAXTER, G. 2009. The mobilisation of organised interests in policy making: access, activity and bias in the 'group system'. Full research report, ESRC end of award report, RES-000-22-1932. Swindon: ESRC [online]. Available from:

Report Type Research Report
Online Publication Date May 1, 2009
Publication Date May 1, 2009
Deposit Date Sep 16, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 16, 2016
Publisher ESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Keywords Public policy; Group system; Organised interests; Mobilisation; Policy issue; Devolution
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