chapter  2
17 Pages

Studying interest groups in the European Union: The theoretical terrain

There is a plethora of studies on interest groups in the European Union that have generated a wealth of insights. These analyses demonstrate quite well why national groups join in the circuit of EU collective action and what strategic options are generally open to them, but they also have notable gaps, have brought about some areas of controversy and display some contradictions in their findings.1 Even though political scientists have long discussed the roles and functions of interest groups in the EU polity, their attention has been discontinuous and focused on different aspects of EU interest intermediation. I argue that five factors account for this state of the art in EU interest group research: the complexity of the subject matter itself; different conceptual and theoretical perspectives, the changing nature of the European polity, the focus on specific units of observation and a methodological preference for case studies. After this review of the literature on interest groups in the EU, I lay down the essential resource dependency perspective on state-business relations that informs this study.