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Power from Below?: The Impact of Protests and Lobbying on 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. Uppsala University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3122-7748
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 [en]
school closure, protest, lobbying, interest groups, social movements, welfare retrenchment, political parties
Keyword [sv]
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: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277700ISBN: 978-91-554-9487-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-277700DiVA: diva2:905455
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
List of papers
1. Are Political Parties More Responsive to Advocacy Groups Mobilising Core Voters or Swing Voters? Political Responsiveness to Citizens’ Protest Movements in Swedish Local Governments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Are Political Parties More Responsive to Advocacy Groups Mobilising Core Voters or Swing Voters? Political Responsiveness to Citizens’ Protest Movements in Swedish Local Governments
2016 (English)In: Scandinavian Political Studies, ISSN 0080-6757, E-ISSN 1467-9477, Vol. 39, no 2, 161-184 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Political scientists often assume that parties listen to some voters more than others. However, this theoretical perspective has rarely been applied to explain political responsiveness to advocacy groups. This article argues that the type of voter mobilised by protest activities plays a role in determining whether advocacy groups are able to influence political decisions. The explanatory value of this approach is demonstrated by a study of the geographic distribution of school closures among Swedish local governments during the 2002–10 period. School issues have been important drivers of contentious politics in Sweden. Two hypotheses are tested. The first hypothesis predicts that protesters in districts with numerous swing voters are more likely to achieve their goals.The second hypothesis predicts that protesters in districts with numerous core voters are more likely to achieve their goals. In line with the swing hypothesis, the main results suggest that protesters are more likely to stop school closures in volatile polling districts.

Keyword
swing voters, core voters, protests, social movements, school closures
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-270272 (URN)10.1111/1467-9477.12061 (DOI)000374861700003 ()
Available from: 2015-12-22 Created: 2015-12-22 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved
2. Quality over quantity?: Technical information, interest advocacy and school closures in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Quality over quantity?: Technical information, interest advocacy and school closures in Sweden
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
Keyword
interest groups, social movements, lobbying, public opinion, influence, policy change, school closures, sociala rörelser, intressegrupper, lobbying
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-238794 (URN)10.1057/iga.2014.17 (DOI)000371721500001 ()
Available from: 2014-12-16 Created: 2014-12-16 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Informational Lobbying and Activist Resources: Comparing Mobilizations Against School Closures in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Informational Lobbying and Activist Resources: Comparing Mobilizations Against School Closures in Sweden
2017 (English)In: Interest Groups & Advocacy, ISSN 2047-7414, E-ISSN 2047-7422, Vol. 6, no 1, 91-111 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Information is often regarded as the main currency for interest group influence. However, studies explaining the use of informational lobbying tactics among interest groups are rare and the studies that do exist only focus on highly professionalised organisations. This article analyses the determinants of information provision among informal and loosely organised groups. It argues that we need to shift the focus from organisational resources to activist resources to explain informational lobbying by such groups. By mobilising activists who are able to donate time/money and who have civic and analytical skills, informal groups compensate for their lack of organisational resources. A study of the tactics used against school closures in Sweden is presented. The results reveal that informal groups in high-income districts and in districts with numerous white-collar parents are more likely to provide policy-relevant information to politicians. The results show smaller district differences when it comes to protest tactics.

Keyword
lobbying, political resources, protests, social movements, interest groups, school closures, lobbying, protester, skolnedläggningar, politisk aktivism
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277699 (URN)10.1057/s41309-017-0011-3 (DOI)000403904600005 ()
Available from: 2016-02-22 Created: 2016-02-22 Last updated: 2017-10-20Bibliographically approved

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Larsson Taghizadeh, Jonas

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