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General Description
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4th ECPR Standing Group Summer School on Interest Groups 
The 4th ECPR Summer School on interest group politics is the first in a second series of three successive summer schools to be organized from 2013-2015. Each summer school is designed to offer a mix of intensive introductory courses into the field and more advanced courses on specific topics within the study of interest group politics. The 2013 summer school will focus on interest groups and agenda setting in multilevel governance systems. The goal is to provide graduate students firm knowledge about how interest organizations mobilize to foster policy change in a tremendously complex and multilayered political environment. In doing so, the course pays special attention on how major changes on the patterns of governance at the global, European, national and sub-national level have transformed mobilization and framing strategies of interest organizations across time, across policy subsystems, policy venues, and countries.

In a multilevel polity, the opportunities for interest organizations to generate attention shifts and to gain political support for their own issue-specific positions are transformed. Interest groups, as strategically minded actors, engage in venue shopping activities by strategically selecting access points that are favorable to their policy preferences. Generally this requires that interest organizations (alone or in cooperation with other policy actors, mainly political parties and/or the media) devote a lot of their resources to framing strategies, generating information in order to convince policymakers and other potential allies – like public opinion and/or the media - that their arguments and proposals are the best policy option in terms of technical feasibility, efficiency and fairness. In this course we will analyse to what extent interest groups strategies have been altered in terms of accessibility in this new political context, whether the consolidation of a multilevel polity has transformed the distribution of power between interest organizations, reinforcing those actors that already have access at the national level, or by the contrary giving access to those interest groups traditionally excluded from the policy making process at the national level; and to what extent we can identify important variations across policy domains.

The consolidation of a multilevel polity implies the delegation of issue jurisdiction upwards to the EU and downwards to sub-national governments. Accordingly, another of the questions we will address in this course is whether there is some variation on the pattern of mobilization of interest groups depending on the level of Europeanization and/or decentralization of a specific issue. Finally, the course will also take into account the importance of the mass-media as an scenario for political mobilization. For some, the challenges generated by increasing Europeanization and regionalization of politics occur in parallel to a process of increasing public orientation of politics, and a growing role of the media as a political scenario. In this course we will analyse how and when interest organizations complement traditional strategies based on a direct influence to the governmental and parliamentarian arenas with media-oriented strategies.

This summer course is also aimed to provide students analytical tools for the analysis of framing and mobilization strategies. In that sense, we will organize different methodological sessions to deal with these questions, focusing especially on survey research. Importantly, the course will also offer students solid support in furthering their research projects and future publications. Students will be in contact with internationally renowned scholars that will not only offer high-quality lectures, but also provide specific advice about individual PhD projects during intensive discussion sessions both individually and collectively with their peers. To achieve this goal, we highly recommend students to submit a research paper before the beginning of the summer school which will be presented to the faculty in one of the sessions. This allows each student to obtain constructive feedback from leading scholars in the field. Finally, the class discussions will be accompanied by several social activities to foster exchange among students and faculty

More information about the ECPR Standing Group on Interest Groups