I’m a lobbyist and I’m proud : – how lobbyists are communicating and negotiating their roles and identities in Brussels (Best paper award)
Summary, in English
Lobbyists are working in an ambivalent atmosphere. In Brussels, lobbying is an activity occupying about 20 000 people on a daily basis. They are trying to influence the legislative outcomes from the work of the about 15 000 politicians and employees of the EU institutions (Coen 2007). On one hand the lobbyists are wanted and needed by the politicians and their civil servants. Previous research tells about the lobbyists as the “merchants of information” (Milbrath 1960) providing resources to an understaffed EU-adminstration. Pieczka also points to that the lobbyists are providing the politicians with knowledge: “… the key resource – political influence – consisting of knowledge of the political processes and personalities as well as an ability to read the prevailing political climate, policy initiatives, and the ebb and flow of power through political networks” (Pieczka 2006:325). On the other hand, the lobbyists’ legitimacy is under a continous discussion regarding ominousity, unfair play and even bribing to achieve wished outcomes of the legislative work (see for example Moloney 2007). Since a few years lobbyists in Brussels need (in theory it is voluntary) to register and account for their lobbying budgets. With the inspiration of Goffman studying the moments and their men rather than the men and their moments (1967) this paper applies an interactional perspective on lobbying. Even though there are a lot of research made on lobbying in Brussels (see for example Beyer et al. 2010, Michalowitz 2007, Coen 2007, McGrath 2005 & 2009, Harris & Fleisher 2005) there is very few research exploring and analysing lobbying on a microlevel. This paper pulls lobbying research into the tradition within Media and Communication studies with ethnographic studies on practices and mechanisms steering these practices (for example Gaye Tuchman 1978). Following this perspective, the author has made seven weeks of participatory observations in Brussels. S/he has been shadowing lobbyists, MEP:s and their assistants and followed them in their daily work, one week per person. In addition about 40 interviews have been made. The results of the study show self-expectations and expectations from the interaction partner and how these expectations are negotiated and communicationed in the concrete meetings. The lobbyists are pursuing different strategies and tactics that are accounted for in the paper.
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