ASTK18437U Political Advocacy, Lobbying and the Influence Production Process

Volume 2023/2024

Full-degree students enrolled at the Department of Political Science, UCPH

  • MSc in Politcal Science
  • MSc in Social Science 
  • MSc in Security Risk Management
  • Bachelor in Political Science


The course is open to:

  • Exchange and Guest students from abroad
  • Credit students from Danish Universities
  • Open University students


Notice: It is only possible to enroll for one course having a 3-day compulsory written take-home assignment exam due to coincident exam periods.

This course is very similar to one of the core courses in the European Politics specialization, but will now be offered separately as an elective.

Notice: It is not possible to enroll this elective, if you have passed exam in the specialization, "Important Challenges in European Governance: Lobbying and Interest Groups" previously, due to overlap in syllabus and content. It will also not be possible to register for the specialization in future semesters if you have passed the exam in this elective.

Det kan ikke lade sig gøre at tage dette kursus, hvis man har taget specialiseringen "Important Challenges in European Governance: Lobbying and Interest Groups", i E23 eller tidligere, da der er for stort overlap i pensum og indhold. Det vil heller ikke være muligt at tilmelde sig specialiseringen i kommende semestre, hvis man har bestået eksamen i dette valgfag.


Input from different social and economic groups, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), labour unions, associations of professionals, business associations and individual firms, is a vital ingredient in the policy process. Throughout it, different types of interest organisations share information with political gatekeepers, advocate for and ‘frame’ their positions, and/or try to mobilise their members or the broader public for a given cause. In this way, they might – individually or collectively – exert influence on the political agenda and/or formulation of specific policies.

In this course, we follow this process of how lobbyists potentially influence public policy. After discussing what we mean by ‘interest organisations’, ‘advocacy’, and ‘lobbying’, as well as understanding how and why societal interests are organised and attract members (PART 1), we follow different phases of the ‘influence production process’ on new policy issues (PART 2). Moreover, we have a closer look at the ‘lobbying toolbox’, including lobbying in coalitions, framing, and social media strategies, as well as taking into account input from practitioners in public affairs (PART 3). The course closes with the design of a lobbying strategy (informed by the course literature), as well as normative reflections about the effects of lobbying and the design of regulation to enhance transparency (PART 4).

The course has a strong focus on academic literature on lobbying in European countries, supplemented by practical exercises and guest speakers that give insights into the day-to-day considerations of lobbyists in the Danish context.


Part 1: Introduction and Conceptualisation


1. The Role and Politics of Interest Organisations: An Overview

2. Understanding Communities of Interest Groups


Part 2: The Influence Production Process

3. Issue Mobilisation

4. Inside Lobbying Strategies:  Targeting Political Institutions and decision-makers

5. Outside Strategies: Lobbying the public & the media

6. Access to Gatekeepers

7. Influencing Policy Outputs: Access, Success and Power


Part 3: Other Items in the Lobbying Toolbox


8.  Practitioners’ perspectives: Lobbying Strategies (in-house)

9. Argumentation and Framing

10. Social Media as a weapon of the weak?

11. Lobbying in Coalitions

12. Practitioners’ perspectives: Public Affairs Companies


Part 4: Re-cap & Conclusions


13. Strategy Game: Design a Lobbying Strategy

14. Conclusions: Normative Evaluations of Lobbying

Learning Outcome


At the end of the course students will have learned to:

  • Give an account of the role of non-state actors in policy making, taking organisation-, issue- and institution-level factors into account
  • Understand the main perspectives on the interest production process in terms of mobilisation, strategy choice, access to political gatekeepers and, potentially, influence on policy outcomes
  • Identify and describe sources of bias in interest representation



Students will have trained the following skills:

  • The ability to apply theoretical perspectives on the relationships between policy-makers and organised interests
  • The ability to select and evaluate suitable methods to assess the role and success of organised interests
  • The ability to develop a lobbying strategy based on insights from the academic literature



Students should have fostered the following competences:

  • Independent reflection on interest representation and the role of lobbyists in policymaking
  • Critical analysis of the scope, nature and/or effect of the involvement of organised interests in decision-making, including the formulation of theoretical expectations and observable implications
  • Evaluation of the benefits, challenges and implications of the activities of organised interests on modern decision-making

(Readings cover 900+ pages)


  • Crepaz, M. Junk, W. M., Hanegraaff, M. and Berkhout, J. (2022). Viral Lobbying. Mobilisation, Strategies, Access and Influence During the COVID-19 Pandemic. De Gruyter.

Useful background reading


Examples of journal articles on the syllabus

Baroni, L., Carroll, B. J., Chalmers, A. W., Marquez, L. M. M., & Rasmussen, A. (2014). Defining and classifying interest groups. Interest Groups & Advocacy, 3(2), 141-159. (18 pages)

Baumgartner, Frank R., and Mahoney, Christine. (2008). Forum Section: The Two Faces of Framing: Individual-Level Framing and Collective Issue Definition in the European Union. European Union Politics 9 (3):435-449. (15 pages)

Berkhout, J. (2013). Why interest organizations do what they do: Assessing the explanatory potential of ‘exchange’ approaches. Interest Groups & Advocacy, 2(2), 227-250. (23 pages)

Berkhout, Joost, Brendan J. Carroll, Caelesta Braun, Adam W. Chalmers, Tine Destrooper, David Lowery, Simon Otjes & Anne Rasmussen (2015). ‘Interest organizations across economic sectors: explaining interest group density in the European Union.’ Journal of European Public Policy 22(4): 462-480. (22 pages)

Binderkrantz, A. (2005) Interest Group Strategies: Navigating Between Privileged Access and Strategies of Pressure. Political Studies, 53, 694-715. (21 pages)

Binderkrantz, A. S., Christiansen, P. M., & Pedersen, H. H. (2015). Interest group access to the bureaucracy, parliament, and the media. Governance, 28(1), 95-112.(17 pages)

Binderkrantz, A.S., Bonafont, L.C., and Halpin, D.R. (2017) 'Diversity in the News? A Study of Interest Groups in the Media in the UK, Spain and Denmark'. British Journal of Political Science 47(2):313-28.  (15 pages)

Chalmers, A.W. (2013) 'Trading information for access: informational lobbying strategies and interest group access to the European Union'. Journal of European Public Policy. (21 pages)

Chalmers, A.W. & Shotton, P.W. (2016) Changing the Face of Advocacy? Explaining Interest Organizations’ Use of Social Media Strategies, Political Communication, 33:3, 374-391.

Crepaz, M. (2017). Why do we have lobbying rules? Investigating the introduction of lobbying laws in EU and OECD member states. Int Groups Adv 6, 231–252.

Danielian, L. H. & Page, B. I. (1994) The Heavenly Chorus: Interest Group Voices on TV News. American Journal of Political Science, 38, 1056-1078. (22 pages)

Daviter, F. (2011) Policy Framing in the European Union, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, Chapter 6: The Framing of EU Biotechnology, 145-170 (25 pages)

De Bruycker, I. (2019) 'Lobbying: An art and a science—Five golden rules for an evidence-based lobbying strategy'. Journal of Public Affairs 19(4). (4 pages)

De Bruycker, I. and Beyers, J. (2019) 'Lobbying strategies and success: Inside and outside lobbying in European Union legislative politics'. European Political Science Review 11(1):57-74. (18 pages).

Druckman, J. N. (2001) On the Limits of Framing Effects: Who Can Frame? Journal of Politics, 63, 1041-1066. (15 pages)

Dür, A.  (2019) ' How interest groups influence public opinion: Arguments matter more than the sources', European Journal of Political Research 58(2): 513-37 (23 pages)

Dür, A. (2008) Measuring Interest Group Influence in the EU. European Union Politics, 9, 559-576.  (17 pages)

Dür, A. and G. Mateo (2013). ‘Gaining access or going public? Interest group  strategies in five European countries.’ European Journal of Political Research  52: 660-686. (26 pages)

Dür, A., and De Bièvre, D. (2007) Inclusion without Influence? NGOs in European Trade Policy. Journal of Public Policy, 27(1), 79-101. (22 pages)

Eising, R. (2007) Institutional Context, Organizational Resources and Strategic Choices. European Union Politics, 8, 329-362. (33 pages)

Flöthe, L. and Rasmussen, A. (2019) ‘Public Voices in the Heavenly Chorus? Group Type Bias and Opinion Representation’, Journal of European Public Policy. (28 pages)

Gilens, Martin, and Benjamin I. Page (2014). ‘Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens ‘ Perspectives on Politics 12 (3):564 - 581. (17 pages)

Halpin, D. (2011) 'Explaining Policy Bandwagons: Organized Interest Mobilization and Cascades of Attention'. Governance 24(2):205-30. (25 pages)

Hojnacki, M. (1997).'Interest Groups' Decisions to Join Alliances or Work Alone.' American Journal of Political Science 41(1): 61-87. (26 pages)

Junk, W. M. (2019), When Diversity Works: The Effects of Coalition Composition on the Success of Lobbying Coalitions. American Journal of Political Science. Online First: doi:10.1111/ajps.12437 (15 pages)

Junk, W. M. and Rasmussen, A. (2019). Framing by the Flock: Collective Issue Definition and Advocacy Success. Comparative Political Studies, 52(4), 483–513. (31 pages)

Klüver, H. (2011) The contextual nature of lobbying: Explaining lobbying success in the European Union. European Union Politics, 12, 483-506. (23 pages)

Klüver, H. (2013) Lobbying as a collective enterprise: winners and losers of policy formulation in the European Union, Journal of European Public Policy, 20:1, 59-76. (17 pages)

Lowery, D., Baumgartner, F. R., Berkhout, J., Berry, J. M., Halpin, D., Hojnacki, M., ... & Schlozman, K. L. (2015). Images of an unbiased interest system. Journal of European Public Policy, 22(8), 1212-1231. (19 pages)

Moe, T. M. (1981) Toward a Broader View of Interest Groups. The Journal of Politics, 43, 531-543. (12 pages)

Sabatier, P. A. (1988) 'An advocacy coalition framework of policy change and the role of policy-oriented learning therein', Policy Sciences2-3(21): 129-168. (39 pages)

Salisbury, R. H. (1969) An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups. Midwest Journal of Political Science, 13, 1-32. (31 pages)

Van der Graaf, A., Otjes, S., & Rasmussen, A. (2016). Weapon of the weak? The social media landscape of interest groups. European Journal of Communication, 31(2), 120–135.

The course is structured into different parts that trace how lobbyists (try to) exert political influence. Classes will be conducted in seminar-style with emphasis on the discussion of advanced readings. It is expected that students prepare for class by following weekly reading guides with questions that inform the class discussions.

Class participation then involves a) discussing several book chapters and research articles during classes (guided by the teacher) and b) participating in (group) exercises to apply arguments, findings or lobbying tools in practical terms. The exam will include both of these elements by asking students to reflect on empirical material based on theories and methods from the course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Individual feedback on the exam is available orally during my office hours (see website).

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
3-day compulsory written take-home assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Three-day compulsory written take-home assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner