Access for All? A Discourse Analysis of the Cooperation Between Interest Groups and Politicians

Peter Bang Jensen & Frederik Vedel Hilstrøm

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The use of interest groups in policy development has existed since the end of the 19th century. However, during the last 10-15 years the lobbying of interest groups has intensified significantly. Although some 1700 different interest groups exist in Denmark, nine of these account for about a third of all political influence. The current understanding within the field of interest groups’ political influence is rather limited, and as such this thesis seeks to broaden the insight to the field of study. The main purpose of this master thesis is to examine and analyse how interest groups and politicians cooperate in Denmark. More specifically, the thesis puts emphasis on the roles each part plays when cooperating and how these roles affect the nature of the cooperation. To do this, the thesis applies a social constructivist approach with concepts from Ernesto Laclau’s discourse theory. With an empirical basis in interviews with three politicians from each of the three parties participating in the ‘VLAK’-government in 2018 and with a representative from the Danish interest group Danish Agriculture & Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer), this thesis explores how discourse constructs the idea of ‘politician’ and ‘interest group’. The analysis shows that politicians and interest groups are granted different subject positions by the discourse. Consequently, politicians are expected to be well informed, but certain limitations compel them to seek assistance from interest groups, which then become a sort of ‘informer’. The thesis argues that a playing-field is created where this transaction of information takes place, and discusses how politicians set up certain barriers to access this playing-field. Ultimately, the equal access to this playing field is up for debate, as is the ‘neutral’ role of the politicians in creating the access barriers.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2018
Number of pages79