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Interest Organizations and European Union Politics  

Justin Greenwood

Interest representation plays a systemic role in European Union (EU) policymaking and integration, recognized as such in the Treaty on European Union. Interest organizations supply technical and political information to the EU institutions, and EU institutions use interest organizations as agents of political communication. Interest organizations act as a proxy for an otherwise largely absent civil society, with a teeming population of groups advocating for every imaginable cause. Where groups are absent, so EU institutions have stimulated their formation. The result is a pluralist system of checks and balances, although the literature includes findings of “islands” resembling corporatist practice. EU institutions have designed a range of procedures in support of “an open and structured dialogue between the Commission and special interest groups,” now largely packaged as a “Better Regulation” program. Measures include funding for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), consultation procedures accompanied by impact assessments, a Transparency Register to provide lobbying transparency, and measures for access to documents that enable civil society organizations to keep EU institutions accountable. A multilevel governance system further strengthens pluralist design, making it impossible for any one type of interest to routinely capture the diversity of EU decision-making. A key controversy in the literature is how to assess influence and whether lobbying success varies across interest group type. EU public policymaking is regulatory, making for competitive interest group politics, often between different branches of business whose interests are affected differently by regulatory proposals. There are striking findings from the literature, including that NGOs are more successful than business organizations in getting what they want from EU public policymaking, particularly where issues reach the status of high salience where they attract the attention of the European Parliament. A key innovation of the Lisbon Treaty involves a European Citizens’ Initiative, which takes dialogue between civil society and EU institutions outside the ecosystem inhabited by civil society organizations and EU institutions known as the “Brussels bubble” and into the member states.

Article

Homophobic Populism  

Javier Corrales and Jacob Kiryk

Populism often emerges with a strong homo- and transphobic orientation. This is the result of an alliance between populism and conservative religion. Populist movements have incentives to reach out to religious voters and vice versa. We argue that the alliance between populism and religion is both a marriage of convenience and inconvenience. Populists can offer attacks on pluralism and liberal social policies (e.g., pro-LGBTQ laws), which conservative religious groups often welcome. In return, religious groups can deliver loyal acolytes across classes, which populists also welcome. Religion enables populist movements to expand their constituency beyond their base of economically anxious and nationalist voters. That said, this alliance works best only where the conservative religious electorate is growing (or, at least, not declining). Even then, this union can still incite internal frictions within populist coalitions. These frictions tend to be more salient within left-wing populist coalitions than right-wing ones. This explains why the populist-religion nexus is more resilient among right-wing populist movements, as cases from the Americas and Europe illustrate.

Article

Qualitative Research and Case Studies in Public Administration  

Jason L. Jensen and Laura C. Hand

Public administration has experienced academic growing pains and longstanding debates related to its identity as a social and administrative science. The field’s evolution toward a narrow definition of empiricism through quantitative measurement has limited knowledge cumulation. Because the goal of all scientific endeavors is to advance by building upon and aggregating knowledge across studies, a field-level point of view eschewing traditional dichotomies such as qualitative/quantitative debates in favor of methodological pluralism allows for examination of both the art and science of public administration. To accomplish this, traditional notions of quality, namely rigor, must be reconceptualized in a way that is appropriate for the philosophical commitments of a selected methodology. Rigor should focus on the accuracy, exhaustiveness, and systematicity of data collection and analysis. This allows for quality judgments about the degree to which the methods resulted in evidence that addresses the research questions and supports stated conclusions. This is a much broader approach to rigor that addresses multiple types of inquiry and knowledge creation. Once the question of rigor is not limiting the types of research done in the field, attention can be turned to the ways in which high-quality studies can contribute to knowledge cumulation. Case studies can be used as an example of a field-level point of view, as they have the ability to utilize abductive reasoning to consider both the whole (the entire case) and the particular (factors that contribute to outcomes, processes, or theories). Case studies explore the relationship between context-independent theories and context-dependent factors using different types of data collection and analysis: a triangulation of sorts. They can test theories in multiple ways and create or suggest new theories. Considering field-level questions as a case study and synthesizing findings from multiple related studies, regardless of methodology, can help move the field forward in terms of its connection between theory and practice, art and science.

Article

Welfare  

Guy Fletcher

Welfare is the measure of how well someone’s life is going for them (either at one time or over a whole life). This concept is crucial throughout practical philosophy, appearing in debates in ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, and beyond. Philosophical discussions of welfare have centered around the extent to which welfare is purely a matter of the quality of one’s experience, the extent to which it is a matter of getting what one desires or, instead, acquiring some fixed set of desire-independent goods and the extent to which it is related to one’s nature. Another set of debates concerns possible theories of welfare, questions about how many theories of welfare are needed to account for all of the facts about welfare, and whether discourse about welfare is linguistically or conceptually pluralistic in a deep and significant way.