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Quality over quantity?: Technical information, interest advocacy and school closures in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Housing and Urban Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3122-7748
2015 (English)In: Interest Groups & Advocacy, ISSN 2047-7414, E-ISSN 2047-7422, Vol. 4, no 2, 101-119 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Information that relates to the consequences of political decisions is often regarded as the main currency for interest group influence. However, this argument has mainly been applied and empirically tested in the case of highly professional and permanent groups. It is therefore unclear to what extent the provision of information plays a role in the political impact of informal and loosely organized groups, such as social movements. This article demonstrates how social movements use information to influence elected officials on the local level in Sweden. A quantitative study of 339 proposed school closures during the 2002–2010 period is presented. School issues have been one of the most important drivers of contentious politics in Sweden. The results reveal that technical information provided by movements, such as information on unintended economic consequences and alternative proposals that could save costs, decreases the probability that proposals will result in school closures. Protest actions with a large number of participants, however, have no statistically significant effects on closures. The study suggests that less organizational resources may be required to influence elected officials through technical expertise than would be expected in light of previous research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Vol. 4, no 2, 101-119 p.
Keyword [en]
interest groups, social movements, lobbying, public opinion, influence, policy change, school closures
Keyword [sv]
sociala rörelser, intressegrupper, lobbying
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-238794DOI: 10.1057/iga.2014.17ISI: 000371721500001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-238794DiVA: diva2:772198
Available from: 2014-12-16 Created: 2014-12-16 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Power from Below?: The Impact of Protests and Lobbying on School Closures in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Power from Below?: The Impact of Protests and Lobbying on School Closures in Sweden
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, there has been a considerable expansion of citizen participation in protests and voluntary advocacy groups. To analyze this development, the social movement literature and the interest group literature have emerged. Yet these two bodies of literature have not communicated with each other and have rarely incorporated knowledge from other fields in political science. As a result, critical questions remain unanswered regarding the political influence of advocacy groups. How do they affect politicians? To what degree do informal groups use lobbying tactics? Are socioeconomically advantaged groups more influential? This thesis endeavors to address the above shortcomings by bridging the literature on social movements, interest groups and political parties. The purpose of the thesis is to explain if and how advocacy groups affect public policy and to analyze which resources that are required to influence political decisions. The focus is on informal and loosely organized social movement organizations (informal SMOs): parental networks, staff networks, and village networks. To test my arguments, I use a unique database on protests and lobbying against school closures in Sweden. Closures of public schools have been one of the most important drivers of political activism in Sweden. The results are presented in three essays.

Essay I tests new electoral mechanisms that could condition the political influence of advocacy groups. The results suggest that the political influence of informal SMOs on school closure decisions varies according to the type of voter they mobilize: swing voters or core voters.

Essay II demonstrates how informal SMOs use lobbying tactics, such as presenting policy-relevant information, to influence politicians. Social movement scholars often focus on protests and ignore lobbying tactics. However, the results show that SMOs that present policy-relevant information are more likely to stop school closures than SMOs that mobilize large protests.

Essay III analyzes which informal SMOs exchange policy-relevant information with politicians. Previous studies on the use of lobbying tactics have ignored activist resources. My results suggest that SMOs mobilizing high-income activists and activists with analytical and civic skills are more likely to present policy-relevant information. This is problematic given normative ideals of equal access to decision-making by all members of society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 73 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 125
Keyword
school closure, protest, lobbying, interest groups, social movements, welfare retrenchment, political parties, skolnedläggning, protest, lobbying, lokalpolitik, intressegrupper, sociala rörelser, välfärdsstat
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277700 (URN)978-91-554-9487-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-15, Auditorium Minus, Museum Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-03-21 Created: 2016-02-22 Last updated: 2016-04-04

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Larsson Taghizadeh, Jonas

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