Article

Measuring interest group framing strategies in public policy debates

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Framing plays an important role in lobbying as interest groups strategically highlight some aspects of policy proposals while ignoring others to shape policy debates in their favor. However, due to methodological difficulties we have remarkably little systematic data about the framing strategies of interest groups. This article therefore proposes a new technique for measuring interest group framing that is based on a quantitative text analysis of interest group position papers and official policy documents. We test this novel methodological approach on the basis of two case studies in the areas of environmental and transport policy in the European Union. We are able to identify the frames employed by all interest groups mobilized in a debate and to assess their effectiveness by studying to what extent decision-makers move closer to their policy position over the course of the policy debate.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Although there is no guarantee that a given frame will lead to a specific policy outcome (Gamson and Modigliani, 1989), 'sizable framing effects can be produced with little effort' on the part of both framers and their intended audience (Jacoby, 2000). In fact, a substantial literature shows lobbyists view framing as an important tool in advocacy activities (Rozbicka and Spohr, 2015, Siles-Brügge, 2018, Klüver, 2011, Junk and Rasmussen, 2018, Klüver and Mahoney, 2015, De Bruycker, 2017. Manipulation of compelling ideas provides an opportunity for lobbyists to shape the political agenda (Daniels and Martin, 1998) and to make political positions appear attractive to election-conscious politicians (Baumgartner et al., 2009). ...
... Frames are often conceived as being constructed from ideas relevant to a given issue (e.g., Gamson and Modigliani, 1989). Actors compete to establish their frame as dominant in policy debates in hopes of facilitating preferred outcomes (Klüver and Mahoney, 2015). A crucial part of this competition involves adaptation, that is, altering a frame's content (e.g., the central ideas) to attract audience support (Carstensen, 2011). ...
... First, there is contestation over which actors' frame(s), composed of shared ideas, will dominate policy debates. This has been widely researched, providing crucial insights into lobbying processes and social movements at the national and international levels (Klüver and Mahoney, 2015, Gamson and Modigliani, 1989, Junk and Rasmussen, 2018. Less studied is the second point of contestation, namely, contestation over the definition of shared ideas. ...
Article
Full-text available
Much existing work on ideas in policymaking and lobbying has focused on how shared ideas can facilitate achievement of policy preferences. However, interviews with lobbyists and recent research indicate shared ideas may also hinder lobbying success—a topic largely ignored to date. I begin to address this gap by mapping two roles for shared ideas in lobbying processes: as icebreakers to facilitate communication with politicians and as instruments in pursuit of specific interests. I subsequently propose pathways via which shared ideas may facilitate or hinder lobbying success and illustrate these mechanisms in case studies examining British preference formation during G20 negotiations over tax reform. The analysis underlines the crucial role of strategic agency and the interaction of actor’s communication strategies when seeking to understand how ideas affect lobbying success. Likewise, it highlights the value of explicitly incorporating ideas’ multivocality into studies of ideas’ role(s) in politics.
... To cope with these types of obstacles to large-n research designs, scholars have been developing a number of new methods and empirical techniques (Boräng et al. 2014). For instance, Klüver and Mahoney have proposed a new method based on automated-text analysis to identify and scrutinize interest group frames (Klüver and Mahoney 2015). Although the recent scholarship has strongly advanced in methodological terms, many conceptual and analytical challenges nevertheless still lie ahead for interest group scholars dealing with questions about framing. ...
... Another example is the study of Klüver et al. (2015a), who distinguish between economic and public frames. The use of generic frames by interest group scholars has been increasing and this is a logical result of the explicit ambition to engage in large-n studies, which tackle framing questions across different policy issues and areas (Klüver and Mahoney 2015;Eising et al. 2015;Baumgartner and Mahoney 2008). ...
... With this approach, frames are seen as instruments of change or as strategic tools that interest groups rely on to obtain their political and policy goals. The studies on generic frames mentioned earlier all approach framing from the level of interest groups (see for instance Klüver et al. 2015;Eising et al. 2015). These studies have been successful in producing generalizable findings about which frames are applied by whom and under which conditions; yet, little is known about which frames are successful advocacy tools and which frames are more influential than others. ...
Article
This research agenda contribution starts from the observation that an increasing number of interest group studies have been addressing questions about framing. Although this emerging literature has made great progress towards being able to study interest group framing in large-n designs owing to advances in data-gathering techniques, many analytical and conceptual challenges still lie ahead. One important question that remains is how framing can serve as a political strategy and, more precisely, which frames are most effective. This article gives an overview of the recent work on interest group framing. It highlights some key issues that interest group scholars face when they undertake research on framing. Various studies on interest group framing are contrasted in terms of the types of frames studied, the level of analysis employed and how influence is determined. I conclude by developing an agenda with some concrete recommendations for interest group scholars that deal with questions about framing.
... The method selected for that purpose is a correspondence analysis of 40 position papers, which were found on the websites of 40 different interest groups. This number of interest groups is in line with the ones from similar studies (Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Among the 40 interest groups, 12 are listed as NGOs in the Transparency Register and the 28 others are representing business interests. ...
... Researchers involved in this European project refined different methods which all offer specific advantages. One of them is to look at the preference attainment of coalitions of interest groups (Bernhagen, Dür, & Marshall, 2014;Dür, Bernhagen, & Marshall, 2015;Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Concretely, it involves a quantitative analysis of the position of interest groups and their desired outcomes regarding a policy proposal, and to separate them on a one-dimension scale between the ones advocating for new or more stringent regulations and the ones who are advocating for the status quo. ...
... However, as Thomson (2011) has demonstrated in his comprehensive book on EU policy debates, most legislative debates are inherently multidimensional, with coalitions wanting to steer the debate in more than one or two ways. To overcome this hurdle, Klüver and Mahoney (2015) have designed a method that allows mapping interest groups and institutions on a multidimensional scale, based on the clusters of words that they are using. The underlying assumption is that if the wording of a report has evolved and moved closer to certain interest groups, that means that they have been successful in steering the debates on the aspects of the issue that were most important to them. ...
Article
Full-text available
en This paper explores the creation of an astroturf group, which is a fake grassroots movement, and looks at the strategies that were used to influence EU policies. The case under scrutiny is the Responsible Energy Citizen Coalition. This alleged citizen movement launched a campaign to influence two European Parliament reports regarding shale gas exploration in 2012. A quantitative text analysis offers insights regarding the astroturf group's communication strategy in comparison to 39 other interest groups who published position papers on the issue. This study shows how the astroturf group's communication is aligned with that of the organizations, which were behind its creation. Furthermore, the distinction between lobbying success and lobbying influence is discussed and a correspondence analysis shows how the astroturf group might have contributed to the success of the pro‐shale coalition on the outcome of one of the two policy proposals. 摘要 zh 学习对成功解决治理网络中的问题而言具有决定性作用:公共和私人行为者通过获取、诠释和扩散信息,进而建立共同行动和创新性政策解决措施。然而,关于在这类背景下引起学习的条件还知之甚少。通过使用系统性综述与元分析优先报告的项目(PRISMA)方法,我们系统地审视了40篇公共管理研究,后者为治理网络中的个人、人际、以及结构性学习条件提供了证据。我们发现,学习被适应于一个结合这些学习条件的平衡配置,其中单一学习条件过多则可能不利于学习。尽管如此,这些条件的某些组合似乎比其他组合更为有效,尤其是参与者彼此信任及参与者多样性的共同出现、一个占据中心位置的出色领导者、以及正式与非正式制度准则的恰当融合这三者形成的组合。我们的结论为未来研究提供了几种方法。 Resumen es Este documento explora la creación de un grupo de un movimiento de base falso, y analiza las estrategias que se utilizaron para influir en las políticas de la UE. El caso bajo escrutinio es la Coalición Ciudadana de Energía Responsable. Este supuesto movimiento ciudadano lanzó una campaña para influir en dos informes del Parlamento Europeo sobre la exploración de gas de esquisto en 2012. Un análisis de texto cuantitativo ofrece información sobre la estrategia de comunicación del grupo de movimiento de base falso en comparación con otros 39 grupos de interés que publicaron documentos de posición sobre el tema. Este estudio muestra cómo la comunicación del grupo de movimiento de base falso está alineada con la de las organizaciones que estaban detrás de su creación. Además, se discute la distinción entre el éxito del cabildeo y la influencia del cabildeo y un análisis de correspondencia muestra cómo el grupo de movimiento de base falso podría haber contribuido al éxito de la coalición pro esquisto sobre el resultado de una de las dos propuestas de políticas.
... The method selected for that purpose is a correspondence analysis of 40 position papers, which were found on the websites of 40 different interest groups. This number of interest groups is in line with the ones from similar studies (Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Among the 40 interest groups, 12 are listed as NGOs in the Transparency Register and the 28 others are representing business interests. ...
... Researchers involved in this European project refined different methods which all offer specific advantages. One of them is to look at the preference attainment of coalitions of interest groups (Bernhagen, Dür, & Marshall, 2014;Dür, Bernhagen, & Marshall, 2015;Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Concretely, it involves a quantitative analysis of the position of interest groups and their desired outcomes regarding a policy proposal, and to separate them on a one-dimension scale between the ones advocating for new or more stringent regulations and the ones who are advocating for the status quo. ...
... However, as Thomson (2011) has demonstrated in his comprehensive book on EU policy debates, most legislative debates are inherently multidimensional, with coalitions wanting to steer the debate in more than one or two ways. To overcome this hurdle, Klüver and Mahoney (2015) have designed a method that allows mapping interest groups and institutions on a multidimensional scale, based on the clusters of words that they are using. The underlying assumption is that if the wording of a report has evolved and moved closer to certain interest groups, that means that they have been successful in steering the debates on the aspects of the issue that were most important to them. ...
... Onderzoeken of opinie stukken die het eigen gelijk bevestigen, kunnen opgepakt worden door de media, maar het kan ook zijn dat er aandacht komt voor de andere kant van het verhaal. Als bepaalde frames veel mediaaandacht hebben dan kunnen deze het publieke debat gaan beheersen (Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Zo is het publieke debat in de VS over de doodstraf aanzienlijk veranderd de afgelopen decennia. ...
... Expert-juridische-en fiscale frames zijn allen ondersteunende frames bij het incentive frame. Deze verschillende frames worden zowel door de voorstanders als de tegenstanders gebruikt en ongeveer in gelijke mate (Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Voor het gebruik van deze soorten frames zijn twee bevindingen van Cook (2018) belangrijk. ...
... 9 This assumes that speakers of textual data convey meaning in a distinctly thematic fashion, so that it is not just the words that help to classify content but also the context in which the words appear. Applications of thematic approaches may be found across the social sciences, including political science (Klüver and Mahoney, 2015;Klüver et al., 2015;Anstead, 2018). Thematic approaches to textual data are particularly effective in settings in which the form of argumentation or deliberation is of interest, as it allows one to capture the sequencing, reciprocal and interactive nature of the argumentative structure. ...
... 9 This assumes that speakers of textual data convey meaning in a distinctly thematic fashion, so that it is not just the words that help to classify content but also the context in which the words appear. Applications of thematic approaches may be found across the social sciences, including political science (Klüver and Mahoney, 2015;Klüver et al., 2015;Anstead, 2018). Thematic approaches to textual data are particularly effective in settings in which the form of argumentation or deliberation is of interest, as it allows one to capture the sequencing, reciprocal and interactive nature of the argumentative structure. ...
Article
Full-text available
We employ multiple methods to gauge empirically the quality of the deliberative process whereby central bankers are held to account for their policy decisions. We use quantitative text analysis on the monetary policy legislative oversight hearing transcripts in the UK and US during the financial crisis. We find that the UK performs significantly better than the US in holding the central bank head to account on monetary policy, namely by engaging in a reciprocal dialogue between the legislative committee and the central banker. We then manually code selected exchanges from these transcripts, according to four criteria of deliberation: partisanship, accountability, narrative and response quality. We find that British MPs invoke almost no partisan rhetoric and target their questions more to relevant aspects of monetary policy; by comparison, their American counterparts seek to appeal more to their constituents and tend to veer away from discussing the details of monetary policy.
... Bureaucrats draft the details of bills and may be most welcoming of technical information. Members of Parliament are subject to electoral constraints and may be more interested in political information that can assist their reelection, as well as in information about how a policy relates to wider political priorities (Burstein and Hirsh 2007;Sabatier and Whiteman 1985) Several studies have used written statements as a data source, employing qualitative (Eising et al. 2015 or quantitative content analyses (Klüver and Mahoney 2015;Bunea and Ibenskas 2015) or both (Boräng et al. 2014). Some studies compare written statements in different countries or political systems, like Britain and Australia (Manwaring 2014), Denmark and the UK (Rasmussen 2015) or Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK (Eising et al. 2015Rasch 2018). ...
... Methodologically, positions as well as the frames and arguments that support these positions have been identified by means of qualitative content analyses that employ human (computer assisted) coding on the basis of codebooks (Eising et al. 2015) or as automated (or semi-automated) quantitative content analyses (Klüver and Mahoney 2015). Several comparisons of these methods point to their strengths and weaknesses (Boräng et al. 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article discusses web collection of interest group statements on bills as a data source. Written statements allow the identification of actors active in policy-making as well as those actors’ positions, lobbying coalitions and issue saliency. These data also can contribute to the measurement of interest groups’ influence on legislation. Taking web collection from the German parliament’s and ministries’ web pages as an example, we demonstrate the collection process and the merits and limitations of employing written statements as identificatory data. Our analysis of statements submitted by interest groups, private firms and policy experts to four federal ministries and the respective parliamentary committees in the years 2015 and 2016 reveals differences between parliamentary and ministerial consultations. Although ministries have invited written statements for fewer draft laws than parliamentary committees, they received far more statements from interest groups. The reason is that German ministries often issue open calls, in which all actors are given the opportunity to comment on legislation, whereas the German parliament invites selected interest group representatives and other experts. As a further result, ministries are mostly contacted by business groups, whereas parliamentary committees use their gatekeeper function to balance interests.
... In recent research by one of us, our research team used computer-assisted content analysis to study the argumentation of nearly 4000 interest groups lobbying on 44 policy debates in the European Union (Klüver and Mahoney 2014;Klüver et al. 2015). The EU's transparent public consultation process allowed the team to download and analyze 3643 position papers put forward by interest groups and coalitions of interest groups. ...
... The proposal included a range of strategies to reduce CO 2 emissions including emissions controls required by auto manufacturers as well as advertising regulations to minimize the promotion of more inefficient vehicles like SUVs. By comparing the interest group position papers with the original communication and the final commission proposal, we examined the framing strategies of 23 interest groups and their effectiveness during the policy formulation stage (Klüver and Mahoney 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The American lobbying information processing system is woefully outdated. The mechanisms by which citizen, interest group, and business concerns are incorporated into the policymaking process have largely not been updated in over 200 years. Lobbyists set up meetings with staffers and members of Congress and share position papers with them about their arguments on a given policy issue. There is no central location where staffers can find out who is lobbying on a given bill and what they are arguing. In this paper, we make the case for a new information processing system that would provide Congress with a more efficient and effective way to manage the information flooding the Hill, and which would ensure more transparency about who is lobbying on any given bill and what they are saying. If used effectively by Congress, watchdog groups, and journalists, this system could result in better representation for a more diverse group of citizens.
... Frames may influence other academics, policy-makers, and citizens regarding (1) what we can expect from non-state actors and (2) the normative role that non-state actors should play in the European polity. Scholars have already noted the power of framing that non-state actors conduct themselves (Boräng et al. 2014;Boräng and Naurin 2015;Klüver and Mahoney 2015). It is thus high time to consider how scholars frame non-state actors in their own work and with what (explicit or implicit) normative connotations. ...
Article
Full-text available
Scholars have used varying terminology for describing non-state entities seeking to influence public policy or work with the EU’s institutions. This paper argues that the use of this terminology is not and should not be random, as different ‘frames’ come with different normative visions about the role(s) of these entities in EU democracy. A novel bibliometric analysis of 780 academic publications between 1992 and 2020 reveals that three frames stand out: The interest group frame, the NGO frame, as well as the civil society organisation frame; a number of publications also use multiple frames. This article reveals the specific democratic visions contained in these frames, including a pluralist view for interest groups; a governance view for NGOs as ‘third sector’ organisations, and participatory and deliberative democracy contributions for civil society organisations. The use of these frames has dynamically changed over time, with ‘interest groups’ on the rise. The results demonstrate the shifting focus of studies on non-state actors in the EU and consolidation within the sub-field; the original visions of European policy-makers emerging from the 2001 White Paper on governance may only partially come true.
... Interest groups' preferences are acquired from comment letters that were sent in response to the Commission's Green Paper. These so-called 'open public consultations' where interest groups can give written input on pending proposals, directives, as well as green and white papers provide a rich data source that has been used by scholars ever more frequently in recent years Klüver 2013;Klüver and Mahoney 2015). In total, 837 documents were uploaded to the European Commission's consultation website. ...
Article
This paper examines the role of interest groups in the regulation of the European audit market, clarifying patterns of business influence in European Union policy-making. Building on recent innovations in measuring policy preferences, the conditions are analyzed under which interest groups were most successful in attaining their preferences during the policy-making process. Existing methods for measuring interest group influence are refined by disaggregating the unit of analysis from the level of a unitary policy dimension to distinct issues featured in a single legislation and by differentiating between large firms and SMEs rather than assuming homogenous business interests. The results indicate that issue dynamics are central factors in determining interest group success: while larger coalitions seem to be more advantageous to large firms compared to SMEs and public authorities, high issue salience decreases the success of large business.
... Framing, by its nature, "includes selecting and highlighting some features of reality while omitting others" (Entman, 1991, p. 53). Hence, claimsmakers use framing strategically to fashion policy debates and proposals of benefit to themselves (Heike & Mahoney, 2015). Though the matrix cannot capture, on a micro-analytical level, the entire landscape of rising and ebbing claims and frames throughout each period, the additional claimsmaking question addresses the political dynamic. ...
Article
Full-text available
Educators teaching policy analysis can choose from many available frameworks, varying in purpose and approach. These frameworks typically advise students to view policies as transient and context-sensitive, but to view the problems activating the policies as objective and static conditions. How problems are variably framed in policy relative to how students are advised to analyze them has not captured the profession’s interest. This article presents 1) an overview of policy analysis frameworks; 2) a summary of findings from a recent study investigating how social policy texts advise students to analyze problems and; 3) a social constructionist framework (matrix) that provides an historical and contextual view of social problems and policy responses. This Problem-to-Policy framework corrects the omissions in most frameworks by including the forces that contributed to a problem’s discovery and construction, while also identifying periods of silence when the problem endured yet faded from view. The author argues that this framework bolsters policy practice by 1) emphasizing those problem frames and contexts that historically led to progressive policies and 2) underscores the urgency for social workers to engage with affected populations in the initial (re)claiming and (re)framing of problems, rather than during the later policy-making stages when constructions have already presaged policy responses.
... This approach has been widely used both to map interest group activities in different policy contexts (Yackee and Yackee 2006), including at the EU level (Beyers et al. 2014;Rasmussen and Carroll 2013). For example, existing studies have analysed consultation responses to map which issues different groups lobby on (Pagliari and Young 2016), the determinants of relative levels of mobilization across different stakeholders (Rasmussen and Carroll 2013), the policy positions of different groups (Chalmers 2018), and the conditions under which they are able to influence policies (Kluver 2009;Klüver and Mahoney 2015). By contrast, this study aims to analyse cross-national patterns of financial industry coordination across a broad swathe of EU financial regulation. ...
Article
Full-text available
Regulatory initiatives are frequently shaped by the ability of the financial industry to build alliances across the wider business community. Yet comparative and international political economy scholarship remains divided over how to explain the resulting networks of financial lobbying. Using quantitative text analysis of 1300 responses to EU financial regulatory consultations between 2010 and 2018, we map patterns of lobbying coordination based on co-signing and text re-use in consultation responses for the first time. This unique dataset is used to analyse hitherto hidden patterns of domestic and cross-border coordination by financial organizations within and between European countries. We find that while distinctive national lobbying networks persist at the country level, the internationalization of financial actors is statistically associated with the formation of coordination ties with foreign financial actors. This suggests that European financial integration has facilitated the emergence of new cross-border alliances which complement-rather than substitute for-existing domestic financial interest coalitions. We argue that the text-as-data approach employed here makes an important new contribution to scholarship on business power and the political economy of Europe. Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments.
... The challenge of measuring the influence of lobbying has been discussed by many, and important advances have been made, for example, by mapping access to political arenas or linking group preferences to political outcomes (Bernhagen et al., 2014;Dür, 2008;Pedersen, 2013;Klüver & Mahoney, 2015). Still, as Helboe Pedersen (2013) argues, we are probably left with getting at certain aspects of influence through correlation and triangulation of methods. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter is a tour of the Scandinavian lobbying landscape providing the state of the art for research on a contested and necessary activity. We discuss the particular context of the Scandinavian countries and current trends relevant for lobbying. Lobbying is often juxtaposed with the corporatist channel which implies institutionalised contact patterns between politicians and organised interests. The corporatist channel has, however, declined in importance while a number of trends have led to more diverse interest group systems, and new actors have assumed a more prominent role in Scandinavian lobbying. Besides discussing such trends, we also present some of the main findings about strategies and techniques used and what similarities and dissimilarities exist between the countries.
... Since Goffman and Bateson, the frame concept is burgeoning (Scheff 2005, 369, Benford andSnow 2000, 611). Research papers using the concept can be found in international relations (Schatz and Levine 2010), sociology (Young 2010), spatial planning (Ernste 2012), media and communication studies (Scheufele 1999, Snow, Vliegenthart, and Corrigall-Brown 2007, and many subfields of policy studies (Candel et al. 2014, Klüver and Mahoney 2015, Scholten and Van Nispen 2008. Framing has also received enthusiastic attention in the field of interpretive policy analysis (Straus 2010, Van Gorp 2007, Van Hulst and Yanow 2014). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
For as long as humans began to settle, coastal areas proved attractive sites for socio-economic processes. In the Netherlands, intensifying economic processes such as urbanization and globalization have raised and continue to raise pressure on land use in those areas. Add to that natural floods and the increasing threat climate-change-induced sea level rise poses, and a situation of complex societal interactions emerges, embodied by the term of “coastal squeeze” (Chapter 1). As demands on land use rose, the requirements for coastal management also changed: ecological, recreational and economic opportunities became more prominent in design processes for coastal safety projects (Chapter 2). One attempt to combine those spatial functions with coastal safety is the mega-nourishment scheme – a large amount of sand (>5 million m³, or 2000 Olympic swimming pools) deposited on and in front of the beach to increase the coastal protection level in the long term. Coastal management experts see the mega-nourishment scheme as an innovative technology, because before Dutch coastal managers used smaller nourishment amounts of sand to protect coasts for a few years only. However, the mega-nourishment scheme came a long way to be accepted as an option in the Dutch coastal management repertoire. While first ideas already date back to the 1980s, it was not until 2011 that a broad actor coalition led by a Dutch provincial government succeeded in implementing the first mega-nourishment scheme. But this was not without resistance. A period of raising awareness about the innovative idea and facing opposition on the part of the advocates of mega-nourishment schemes preceded its construction in 2011. At the same time, a scientific discourse advocating experimentation with mega-nourishment schemes developed. Many experts expected the advantages of mega-nourishment schemes to outweigh the disadvantages (Chapter 3). A problem setting including such a complex policy domain led to a focus on interactions between policy-relevant actors and their exchange of arguments pro and con the acceptance of mega-nourishment schemes. Policy situations with such a diversity of interests and of policy options run the risk of getting bogged down in discussions about controversial policy problems and solutions. This holds especially, if the policy debate involves an innovative, unknown, and untested policy option, such as the mega-nourishment scheme. Definitions of a given problem, scopes of possible and acceptable solutions to a previously-defined problem and perceptions of the landscape of policy-relevant actors fall within the realm of meaning-making. Meaning-making, simply defined, comprises all mental processes necessary to understand ourselves, our position in and our relationship with our surroundings. Taking such a meaning-oriented perspective, this dissertation focuses on the role of actors’ frames and interactions between those frames in effectuating policy choice (Chapter 4). Frames can be seen as mental structures enabling people to bring order into their surroundings and make sense of them. At the same time, these structures limit the possibility for people to “see things differently”. This is only one way of understanding how individuals make meaning. Taking a meaning-oriented research perspective also has consequences for the ways in which we can know things about our research subjects (Chapter 5). A meaning orientation entails understanding patterns of meaning-making, instead of explaining causal relations between independent and dependent variables. Hence, this way-of-knowing (“epistemology”) often links to a way-of-being (“ontology”), which assumes the existence of multiple social realities among people involved. People can see things differently, but, in principle, none of those perspectives is normatively privileged, i.e. no perspective is truer than another. A dual objective guides the work in front of you (Chapter 1). First, the research explored which frames were successful in the adoption of mega-nourishment schemes in the Netherlands. This objective traces the political arguments that convinced a majority of the policy-relevant actors. Second, the research aimed at revealing those processes of meaning-making relevant for mega-nourishment schemes to come about. While the findings relating to this second objective may be relevant for strategic area management 1 as well, its focus is on positioning meaning-making processes in coastal management in its scientific, conceptual context. Two overarching research questions follow from these two research objectives: A. Which interpretations of the policy situation were relevant for adding mega-nourishment schemes to the accepted set of coastal management technologies in the Dutch coastal management context? B. How does meaning-making of the policy situation influence decision-making processes about meganourishment schemes in the Dutchcoastal management context? I studied three cases to answer these research questions, two of which were mega-nourishment schemes – the Sand Motor and the Hondsbossche Duinen project – and the third was a small-scale experiment with sand in the Dutch Markermeer: the Houtribdijk pilot project (Chapter 5). In all three cases, I conducted qualitative, in-depth interviews with policy-relevant actors, i.e. employees of governmental organizations directly involved in the decision- making processes for the projects. Afterwards, I analyzed the interviews by focusing on how the interviewees framed various aspects of the coming about of the projects and how they perceived the development of debates among actors in retrospect. In the absence of observed interaction data, the interviews resulted in indirect data for actors’ framing interactions. “Framing” describes the different processes with which people communicate purposefully or sub-consciously with others about a matter at hand. This way of communicating is always permeated with the meaning made through a frame. During the reconstruction of the projects’ frame developments and framing interactions, eventually the most relevant meaning-making process for every particular project emerged. The first empirical elaboration is the Hondsbossche Duinen project at the North Sea coast in the province of North Holland (Chapter 6). It involved approximately 30 million m³ sand being deposited, amounting to a volume of 12.000 Olympic swimming pools and a surface of 400 football fields. The design included vegetation and a dune valley for fortification and the creation of recreational facilities. Throughout this project, actors’ frames converged more and more. But two changes in project management were necessary for this. The first change was from the provincial government of North Holland to the water board “Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier”. This happened, because some actors emphasized the differences between their own and others’ frames, instead of building on existing similarities. During the second change, the public works agency came on board in a combined project management with the water board. This cooperation, unusual for Dutch coastal management, led to success, because it focused on the similarities between frames. I devote a second empirical elaboration to the small-scale Houtribdijk pilot project at the coast of the inland waters of the Dutch Markermeer (Chapter 7). This project involved experimentation with the effect of vegetation on nourished sand bodies in inland waters. For this, the Houtribdijk between Lelystad, Flevoland, and Enkhuizen, North Holland was nourished with 130.000 m³ of sand. This amount compares to a volume of 52 Olympic swimming pools and a surface of 10 football fields. The Houtribdijk pilot is an example of what can happen in terms of frames and framing if a private party initiates the project. In this specific instance, the frames of the few involved actors did not so much aim for cooperation, but for an efficient realization of the project according to formal procedures. This low involvement of actors with each other kept exchange among frames to a minimum. The Sand Motor project is the third empirical case discussed in this dissertation (Chapter 8). Constructed in 2011, this was the first mega-nourishment scheme at the Dutch North Sea coast with approximately 21 million m³ of sand, comparable to a volume of 8.400 Olympic swimming pools and a surface, just after construction, of 180 football fields. The most observable meaning-making processes in the interviews for this project were the ways in which frames interacted. In the realization, one actor – the provincial government of South-Holland – played a large role in convincing other actors of his idea. This actor was very successful in framing his message as such that other parties became advocates of the proposed solution, too. The term ‘interpretive policy entrepreneur’ captures this ability. It describes an actor who can convince others by making meaning in a way that they can easily relate to. These case studies are not only relevant as stand-alone examples of innovative nourishment schemes in the Netherlands. Through comparing the projects with each other, I gained additional insights (Chapter 9). In this comparison generalization of the findings was not the objective, but seeing similarities and differences between the cases. On the one hand, the comparison included structural aspects of the projects, such as the way in which higher governance levels supported the respective project and the exchange between the political and scientific spheres. On the other hand, I compared the three projects concerning their interpretive aspects. This included which arguments were important in the decision-making processes, in how far the discussions exceeded temporal, institutional and geographical scales, what role interpretive policy entrepreneurs played, and what the character of framing interactions across the cases was. Based on the three empirical cases and their comparison, conclusions can be drawn about the research questions (Chapter 10). Mega-nourishment schemes’ suggested multifunctionality accelerated their adoption into the Dutch coastal management repertoire (Research question A.). Multifunctionality is not only a versatile argument allowing actors with different interests to connect easily, but it also promises the mitigation of effects of coastal squeeze. Advocates of mega-nourishment schemes had to convince skeptics of the utility of experimenting with this technology to prove that it was indeed multifunctional. In the Sand Motor case, this experimental language was another adoption factor, though inferior to the multifunctionality argument, which helped advocates to realize the project. The influence of meaning-making on decision-making processes can be understood as the ways in which actor coalitions formed around specific interpretations of policy problems and associated solutions (Research question B.). In the three cases, I found framing processes contributing to such coalition forming (“convergent”), and processes detracting from it (“divergent”). Both types of processes can be employed deliberately. However, these processes also occur subconsciously in the natural manner of communication among humans through framing. Due to more and more convergent meaning-making, the coalition advocating mega-nourishment schemes stabilized on different governmental levels and in different sectors. This has leading to broad acceptance of mega-nourishment schemes in Dutch coastal management. The dissertation opens up at least three directions for future research. First, the knowledge of interpretations and policy processes can be translated into guidelines for practitioners. Profound knowledge of frames, framing and the processes that connect interpretations of policy situations to outcomes of projects offers support for practice. Second, the research focused on actors from governmental organizations, but left out societal actors, e.g. non-governmental organizations, civil initiatives, or the general public. Probing whether those groups also embrace the interpretations that would lead to successful implementation may add valuable knowledge about the relation between governments and their constituency. Third, it is relevant to study how interpretations – in times when opinions challenge scientific findings – influence the categorization of knowledge as ‘questionable’ or ‘undisputed’. Think of the way in which high-ranking politicians doubt the existence of climate change. In sum, this dissertation draws attention to the societal drivers of coastal squeeze. Furthermore, it studies the adoption of a coastal management innovation – the mega-nourishment scheme – which may contribute to mitigating the effects of coastal squeeze. On the one hand, this research’s meaning-orientation improves our understanding of policy processes in Dutch coastal management. On the other hand, it stresses the importance of meaning- making as a basic cognitive process that is not only important in policy-making, but just as much in everyday decision-making.
... The academic literature lacks a systematic analysis exploring stakeholders' preferences on the design and change of consultation regimes in national or supranational systems of governance, despite their ubiquitous use. The common approach is to examine consultations as distinctive policy events in which lobbying behavior is studied (Rasmussen and Alexandrova 2012, Bunea 2014, Klüver and Mahoney 2015, Rasmussen and Gross 2015, lobbying success is explained (Bunea 2013, Klüver 2013) and patterns of biased interest intermediation are explored . ...
Article
Full-text available
Consultations with stakeholders are a policy instrument widely used by policy makers to design policies and prepare legislative proposals across national and supranational systems of government. The European Union has recently reviewed its stakeholder consultation regime and asked for stakeholders’ policy input. This offers an opportunity to examine empirically stakeholders’ own evaluation of the regime and to ask a fundamental question about its democratic credentials: Do stakeholders recognise the EU consultation regime as reinforcing bias in interest representation by benefiting policy insiders, or conversely as an instrument that alleviates bias in supranational policymaking? Building on rational choice institutionalism, this article outlines the potential distributional outcomes of the regime and argues that they are likely to vary along the lines of a classic divide in policy making that opposes policy insiders to outsiders. Two competing narratives are discussed in relation to the expected direction of this variation by focusing on insiders’ incentives to support or oppose the regime.The observable implications are tested empirically on an original dataset containing information about stakeholders’ positions on the evaluation of the regime status quo, its proposed further institutionalisation and their recommendations for change.The findings describe a consultation regime that seems to have created conditions alleviating bias in stakeholders’ participation in supranational policymaking.This is evident in the lack of systematic, significant differences between insiders and outsiders in the evaluation of the consultation regime.Where differences do occur, they are consistent with the image of a consultation regime that has not reinforced bias in favour of policy insiders.These actors are found to be more critical of the regime status quo, its institutionalisation and more inclined to recommend policy improvements.This supports an optimistic view over the democratic credentials and legitimacy of the EU consultation regime and outlines an additional scenario under which policy actors that are traditionally associated with exerting more power and influence find themselves stripped of their privileged position in the context of European supranational governance.
... Traditional qualitative content analysis focuses on combining policy texts in a structured manner, such as exploring policy issues and environments, policy instruments and objectives, and research content in other public policy disciplines. Benefiting from previous theoretical discussion and empirical research, quantitative text analysis has been proven applicable to the study of policy instruments (11), policy topics (12), policy positions (13), and policy diffusion (14). With the help of mature text mining technology, scholars can identify the important information contained in thousands of policy texts. ...
Article
Full-text available
Health care for the elderly is one of the key issues in the field of public health. In the context of global aging, the government's policy framework for elderly care affects the development of local elderly care. The priorities and instruments of the elderly care policy are important windows for understanding the local development planning system. This paper uses a quantitative text analysis method based on text mining to analyze 3,618 provincial policies in China. Considering the pilot demonstration projects for elderly care selected by the Chinese government in recent years, this paper finds that local elderly care policies have a three-phase evolution, and the priorities in each phase are solving the legacy of transition, expanding private sector participation, and realizing the well-being of the elderly. Moreover, mature regions use more environmental policy instruments, and the most effective are financial services, regulatory systems, and strategic guidance. For immature regions, it is necessary to use more core instruments on the premise of using basic instruments so that public policies can serve local development and realize the well-being of the elderly.
... Much of this bias comes from the issue agenda, where interest groups perpetuate curated problem definitions. Consistent with theories of public policy (Baumgartner and Jones 2009), interest groups employ strategies aimed at stabilizing problem definitions within supportive policy venues by using time-tested frames crafted to support preferred definitions of problems (Pralle 2006;Klüver and Mahoney 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
We introduce a new way to measure interest group agendas and demonstrate an approach to extending the CAP topic coding scheme to policy domains at lower levels of analysis. We use public comments on regulatory proposals in US education policy to examine the topics contained in policy arguments. We map the education policy space using a data set of 493 comments and 5315 hand-coded comment paragraphs. A unique measurement model accounts for group and topic diversity and allows us to validate our approach. The findings have implications for measuring topic agendas in lower-level policy domains and understanding group coalitions and competition in education policy. We contribute to text-as-data approaches tracing policy change in the study of public policy. The findings suggest the relationship between issue attention observed by scholars and larger policy reform movements.
... Whether, and the extent to which, decisions directly affect the participants or not is typically a distinguishing factor that separates 'stakeholders' from citizens or wider public that are referred to as recipients of policy. In terms of stakeholders, the representation of private industry interests and environmental lobby groups is often shown by researchers in the field of public affairs as having an important determining effect on policy and legislative outcomes (e.g., Klüver and Mahoney, 2015). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The calls for greater national contributions to decarbonise and for greater citizen participation in forming these plans are growing ever louder. Little, however, is understood on the relationships between different approaches for involving citizens in national strategy development and the policy plans and commitments that result. Taking the ongoing case of the EU National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), this thesis seeks to fill this gap by firstly, investigating how EU member states have interpreted legal requirements for public participation in their 2030 national climate strategies. Thereafter it explores the relationships between the different types of participatory process and the likely effectiveness and coverage of plans to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This research is innovative, firstly, because it constructs scaled, qualitative indicators to enable data-driven analysis to identify the variety and intensity of approaches to participatory governance across climate plans. It then explores patterns between different governance processes and the countries’ plans for energy transition. Secondly, by reviewing literature and consulting with practitioners and academics from different backgrounds, and by drawing on a mix of qualitative and quantitative techniques, a transdisciplinary approach is adopted.
Article
Full-text available
The framing of issues is part of the tool kit used by lobbyists in modern policy making, yet the ways in which framing works to affect lobbying success across issues remain underexplored. Analyzing a new dataset of lobbying in the news on 50 policy issues in five European countries, we demonstrate that it is not individual but collective framing that matters: Emphasis frames that enjoy collective backing from lobbying camps of like-minded advocates affect an advocate’s success, rather than frames being voiced by individual advocates. Crucially, it matters for advocacy success whether the advocate’s camp frames its policy goals on an issue in unity with “one voice” and whether the actor’s camp wins the contest of framing the issue vis-à-vis the opposing camp. Our results emphasize the need to consider the collective mechanisms behind the power of framing and have implications for future research on framing as an advocacy tool.
Article
Full-text available
The promises and pitfalls of automated (computer-assisted) and human-coding content analysis techniques applied to political science research have been extensively discussed in the scholarship on party politics and legislative studies. This study presents a similar comparative analysis outlining the pay-offs and trade-offs of these two methods of content analysis applied to research on EU lobbying. The empirical focus is on estimating interest groups’ positions based on their formally submitted policy position documents in the context of EU policymaking. We identify the defining characteristics of these documents and argue that the choice for a method of content analysis should be informed by a concern for addressing the specificities of the research topic covered, of the research question asked and of the data sources employed. We discuss the key analytical assumptions and methodological requirements of automated and human-coding text analysis and the degree to which they match the identified text characteristics. We critically assess the most relevant methodological challenges research designs face when these requirements need to be complied with and how these challenges might affect measurement validity. We also compare the two approaches in terms of their reliability and resource intensity. The article concludes with recommendations and issues for future research.
Article
B. Voltolini's article discusses the potential of case study and process-tracing methods for studying lobbying and framing in the European Union (EU). It argues that case studies and process tracing allow us to explore different sets of questions than large-N and quantitative approaches and to shed light on the mechanisms that contribute to policy change. Through these methods it is possible to study long-term processes and under-researched areas, to analyse the social construction of frames and to single out the conditions that lead to successful framing. In order to show the advantages of case studies and process tracing, illustrative examples drawn from the case study of EU foreign policy towards the Israeli–Palestinian conflict are provided. R. Eising's comment discusses the strenghts and pitfalls of this research strategy.
Article
The role of law has received only scarce attention in the emerging debate on framing EU policy. Addressing this research gap, we develop a concept of legal framing that identifies different strategies through which frame entrepreneurs can shape the policy debate by activating the structural power of the law. We demonstrate the relevance of these strategies for the case of the negotiations for an Israel-Europol agreement in which the NGO MATTIN Group has emerged as an influential frame entrepreneur. The NGO conclusively established that the initial draft of the Israel-Europol agreement deviated in important respects from the EU’s own legal position. Over time, the EU increasingly felt compelled to maintain the unity and consistency of EU law, asking a number of additional conditions from Israel. The EU’s new stance had important implications for the deadlocked Israel-Europol negotiations as well as for EU-Israeli contractual relations more broadly.
Article
Despite the impressive amount of empirical research on lobbying, a fundamental question remains overlooked. How do interest groups choose to lobby different sides of an issue? We argue that how groups choose sides is a function of firm-level economic activity. By studying a highly salient regulatory issue, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and using a novel data set of lobbying activities, we reveal that a group’s main economic sector matters most. Firms operating in finance and retail face unique costs and are incentivised to lobby against the GDPR. However, these groups are outgunned by a large, heterogeneous group of firms with superior lobbying firepower on the other side of the issue.
Article
Quantitative text analysis constitutes a promising new method that allows for measuring the policy positions and the lobbying success of interest groups by analyzing their submissions to legislative consultations (Klüver, 2009). The use of quantitative text analysis allowed me to present a novel and unique research design which was the largest in scope at the time and resulted in important new insights regarding the determinants of lobbying success (Klüver, 2009, 2011, 2013). In their recent article, Bunea and Ibenskas (2015) however question the usefulness of quantitative text analysis for studying interest groups and discuss several issues which in their view constitute important disadvantages of the technique. In this article I carefully discuss each of their arguments and show that none of their objections actually prevents scholars from successfully using quantitative text analysis to study interest groups in the European Union and beyond.
Article
Cannabis legalization is often referred to as a moral issue. However, given the limits of morality policy as a distinct policy subcategory and the contemporary dominance of technocratic politics, one could wonder if it is really framed as such within political institutions. In this article, I ask how moral frames compete and interact with other frames in debates over morality policy. Working with a moral/epistemic dichotomy, I conduct framing analysis on parliamentary debates in Quebec, Ontario, and Maine, which have recently reformulated their cannabis policy. Although trends in framing vary across cases, moral frames are consistently less salient than epistemic frames. Furthermore, a pattern of complementary framing is found, whereby actors combine moral and epistemic frames. Overall, this study shows that cannabis policy is often framed as nonmoral, and that its moral component is nonexclusive. I conclude by discussing some implications of these findings in the post‐legalization landscape. Branton, Regina, and Ronald J. McGauvran. 2018. “Mary Jane Rocks the Vote: The Impact of Climate Context on Support for Cannabis Initiatives.” Politics & Policy 46(2): 209–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12248. Brekken, Katheryn C., and Vanessa M. Fenley. 2021. “Part of the Narrative: Generic News Frames in the U.S. Recreational Marijuana Policy Subsystem.” Politics & Policy 49(1): 6–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12388. Fisk, Jonathan M., Joseph A. Vonasek, and Elvis Davis. 2018. “‘Pot’Reneurial Politics: The Budgetary Highs and Lows of Recreational Marijuana Policy Innovation.” Politics & Policy 46(2): 189–208. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12246. A menudo se hace referencia a la legalización del cannabis como una cuestión moral. Sin embargo, dados los límites de la política de moralidad como una subcategoría política distinta y el dominio contemporáneo de la política tecnocrática, uno podría preguntarse si realmente está enmarcada como tal dentro de las instituciones políticas. En este artículo, pregunto cómo los marcos morales compiten e interactúan con otros marcos en los debates sobre la política moral. Trabajando con una dicotomía moral/epistémica, se lleva a cabo un análisis de encuadre en los debates parlamentarios en Quebec, Ontario y Maine, que recientemente han reformulado su política de cannabis. Aunque las tendencias en el encuadre varían según los casos, los marcos morales son consistentemente menos destacados que los marcos epistémicos. Además, se encuentra un patrón de encuadre complementario, mediante el cual los actores combinan marcos morales y epistémicos. En general, este estudio muestra que la política de cannabis a menudo se enmarca como no moral y que su componente moral no es exclusivo. Concluyo discutiendo algunas implicaciones de estos hallazgos en el panorama posterior a la legalización. 大麻合法化通常被称为一个道德问题。不过,鉴于道德政策作为独特的政策子类别的局限性以及技术官僚政治在当代的主导地位,其是否真的在政治制度中被如此界定,这是存在疑虑的。本文中,我研究了道德政策辩论中道德框架如何与其他框架产生竞争和相互影响。使用道德/认知二分法,对魁北克省、安大略省和缅因州的议会辩论进行框架分析,这些地区最近重新制定了大麻政策。尽管框架趋势因案例而异,但道德框架的突出性一致小于认知框架。此外,还发现了一种互补框架模式,即行动者将道德框架和认知框架相结合。总体而言,本研究表明,大麻政策通常被描述为是非道德的,其道德成分具有非排他性。我在结论处探讨了这些研究发现在大麻合法化后期(post‐legalization)中的一些影响。
Thesis
The research topic of this dissertation is the use of astroturf lobbying in democratic societies. This tactic consists in creating fake grassroots movements for political purposes while keeping the real identity of the instigator secret. By lying about its true identity and by simulating citizen support for or against a political issue, this unethical strategy represents a threat to the well-being of democracy. For this reason, this study aims to shed light on astroturfing with two research objectives. The first objective aims to design a method to detect astroturf groups that are taking part in political debates. The method used for this purpose is a framing analysis. The underlying assumption is that astroturf groups frame an issue differently than genuine grassroots movements. The research design includes a quantitative text analysis of documents published by 72 interest groups active on the hydraulic fracturing debate in the United States. The method has successfully led to the identification of 12 astroturf groups. The second objective aims to assess the influence that astroturf groups have on public policy. For this purpose, the position papers of 31 interest groups active on the issue of hydraulic fracturing in the European Union have been analyzed with a similar quantitative method. One astroturf group has been identified from that analysis. To measure its influence, the evolution of the frames used in two reports voted by the European Parliament in 2012 have been studied with a correspondence analysis. The results show that the coalition of which the astroturf group is part was successful in influencing one of the two reports. The two case studies are insightful in understanding the role that astroturfing plays within broader lobbying strategies. Indeed, the findings of this study show that astroturf groups are spreading in the public sphere with the aim to deceive policymakers and public opinion in order to influence public policy.
Chapter
Full-text available
Frames advance coherent interpretations of issues that suggest specific problem definitions, causes, moral evaluations, and courses of action. As such, frames highlight certain aspects of an issue, and downplay or ignore others. While the use of frames is inevitable—i.e., the act of framing—actors do use frames strategically in their attempts to define issues in a way favorable to them and in their efforts to influence the course of action on issues. This is especially the case in the political realm. Thus, strategic framing is crucial to political public relations. This chapter offers a brief introduction to framing theory before shedding light on the specific ways in which political actors use frames strategically and to what effect.
Chapter
Stakeholders and their organizations are increasingly involved in governance of higher education, not only within institutions or at system level, but also in various supra-national and intergovernmental processes. For these, as well as pragmatic reasons (ease of access and relatively simple methods for analysis), this chapter advocates for a more systematic approach to studying stakeholder organizations, their participation in and impact on governance of higher education. Specifically, the chapter (1) provides a threefold nested conceptualization of policy positions of stakeholder organizations, comprising issues, preferences concerning these issues and the normative basis utilized to legitimize said preferences; (2) presents advantages and disadvantages of different methodological approaches to analysing policy positions of stakeholder organizations, including qualitative and quantitative content analysis, employing either human-coding or computer(-assisted) coding of policy documents; and (3) highlights different insights one can gain from analysing policy positions of stakeholder organizations. It 2 combines (thus far limited) insights from higher education studies with the more generic literature on interest groups and uses examples from European level stakeholder organizations to illustrate its points.
Article
Full-text available
This paper focuses on the framing strategies lobbyists apply to influence public policy in a case on nuclear emission data in Switzerland. Framing analysis is at the heart of communication science and has been applied in lobbying settings, but framing theory has not yet been fine‐tuned to the specificities of public affairs research. This qualitative case study gives insights into the dominant frames seven actors ranging from corporations to nongovernmental organizations to public institutions employ to defend a legal court case in the nuclear power industry. The results of the document analysis and the interviews show that frames travel among diverse actors and only some are picked up by the courts, at times stating a position opposite to the one initially intended by the frame sponsor. A public affairs‐specific integrated process model of framing is presented that views the media in the role of a moderator in the framing process and pronounces the lobbying organizations' strategic goals, the different stakeholders as target audiences, and the outcomes of the public affairs process.
Article
Full-text available
Forschungspaper für Regierungsforschung.de, wissenschaftliches Online-Magazin der NRW School of Governance. Dieser Beitrag untersucht am Fall der EU-Verordnung zur Reduzierung der CO2-Emissionen durch schwere Nutzfahrzeuge, inwieweit sich wirtschaftliche und nicht-wirtschaftliche Akteure hinsichtlich ihrer Positionen, der vorgebrachten Argumente und ihres Erfolges voneinander unterscheiden. Die Analyse zeigt zwar quantitativ eine starke Dominanz wirtschaftlicher Akteure, diese sind jedoch nicht generell durchsetzungsfähiger. Es kann somit nicht von einer Erfolgsgeschichte für die Fahrzeugindustrie gesprochen werden, auch gibt es keine eindeutigen Unterschiede zwischen den Interessenvertretern mit Blick auf ihre Positionierung und Argumentation.
Article
Full-text available
Introduction for special issue of Journal of Public Affairs on lobbying and communication
Article
Full-text available
Astroturf lobbying refers to the simulation of grassroots support for or against a public policy. The objective of this tactic is for private interests to pretend they have public support for their cause. However, omitting to disclose the real sponsor of a message renders the communication unauthentic and undermines democratic and pluralist values. This article seeks to develop a method to detect astroturf movements based on emphasis framing analysis. The hypothesis is that astroturf groups employ different frames than genuine grassroots movements to comply with the private interests they truly represent. The results of the case study on the shale gas exploration debate in the United States show that astroturf groups used frames that differed significantly from authentic non-governmental organizations, which allowed their detection.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Interest groups are crucial players of policy processes, not only as providers of information or political capital, but also as promoters of particular frames. By combining process-tracing, frame analysis and semi-structured interviews to representatives of interest groups and key policymakers, this paper aims to shed light on the single and yet paradigmatic case of the fight around the regulation of tobacco advertising in Switzerland, which since 2014 has seen at least two advocacy coalitions facing each other and promoting two quite different (somehow classic) frames: economic freedom and individual responsibility VS public health and collective protection. Our analysis helps explain how-among other factors-interest groups' framing strategies are likely to influence the outcome of the policy process in terms of either status quo maintenance or policy change. The paper contributes to the literature on interest groups and lobbying by presenting an original analytical framework linking advocacy coalitions' characteristics, framing strategies and policy outcomes and by focusing on an exemplary policy process.
Article
Full-text available
A recently emerging literature demonstrates that reputational concerns explain why regulatory agencies strategically communicate and engage with their manifold audience. We complement this literature by examining the potential of strategic communication as a reputational and regulatory strategy. Based on a reputational approach to public agencies, we assume agencies to strategically diversify between proactively or reactively engaging with public concerns raised by their audiences, depending on whether a core or evolving competency is at stake. We test these assumptions empirically by examining frame alignment between formal communication of the European Central Bank (ECB) and public concerns raised by ECB audiences. Our analysis yields two key findings. First, our findings indicate external frame alignment signaling a strategic reactive strategy by the ECB to diversify its timing in responding to concerns raised by its audiences. Second, we find a pattern of internal frame alignment between the ECB’s core competencies and evolving competencies, indicating strategic linkage of attention to various competencies. Our study demonstrates how analyzing an agency’s formal communication in tandem with public concerns of its audiences via machine learning techniques can significantly improve our understanding of agency responsiveness and yields significant insights into the democratic legitimacy of regulatory agencies.
Article
The content of a government’s website is an important source of information about policy priorities, procedures, and services. Existing research on government websites has relied on manual methods of website content collection and processing, which imposes cost limitations on the scale of website data collection. In this research note, we propose that the automated collection of website content from large samples of government websites can offer relief from the costs of manual collection, and enable contributions through large-scale comparative analyses. We also provide software to ease the use of this data collection method. In an illustrative application, we collect textual content from the websites of over two hundred municipal governments in the United States, and study how website content is associated with mayoral partisanship. Using statistical topic modeling, we find that the partisanship of the mayor predicts differences in the contents of city websites that align with differences in the platforms of Democrats and Republicans. The application illustrates the utility of website content data extracted via our methodological pipeline.
Thesis
The goal of this study is to examine and challenge questions of regulatory capture by concentrated industry interests in the reform debates in response to the credit crisis which originated in the US in 2008. Policymakers in the EU and the US set ambitious reform efforts in motion to better protect consumers of financial services. Decisions to reform credit regulations marked the end of highly politicized reform debates in the US Congress as well as in the European Parliament, involving lobbying from business associations and civil society groups, in which proponents of reforms would normally have been considered to be much weaker than their opponents. Paradoxically, a poorly-resourced civil society coalition successfully lobbied decision-makers and countered industry attempts to prevent regulatory change. What, then, explains that rather weak and peripheral actors prevailed over more resourceful and dominant actors?
Article
In the last decade, there has been a significant surge in cannabis legalization, with Uruguay (2013), Canada (2018) and 19 U.S. states (2012-2022) having developed recreational cannabis policies. A growing literature analyzes legalization from a policymaking or public health standpoint. Yet only few studies have explored its discursive component . This article contributes to filling this gap by developing conceptual tools for cannabis policy discourse analysis. I first examine the history of cannabis policy in North America and find two main discursive clusters, i.e., moral and epistemic discourse. I then discuss existing typologies of cannabis regulation models and select that of Beauchesne, which distinguishes between three models: prohibition 2.0, public health and harm reduction, and commercialization. At the intersection of discursive clusters and these regulation models, I identify six mutually exclusive frames of cannabis policy: moral panic, medical/health, reparations/vulnerabilities, harm reduction/risk mitigation, laissez-faire/liberalism, and illicit market/revenue.
Article
Framing plays an important role in public policy. Interest groups strategically highlight some aspects of a policy proposal while ignoring others in order to gain an advantage in the policy debate. However, we know remarkably little about how interest groups choose their frames. This paper therefore studies the determinants of frame choice during the policy formulation stage in the European Union. We argue that frame choice is a complex process which is simultaneously affected by interest group as well as contextual characteristics. With regard to interest group characteristics, we expect that frame choice varies systematically across actor type. With regard to contextual characteristics, we hypothesize that the frames that interest groups employ are specifically tailored towards the DGs in charge of drafting the proposal. Our theoretical expectations are tested based on a new and innovative dataset on frame choice of more than 3,000 interest groups in 44 policy debates.
Article
Full-text available
How does the EU resolve controversy when making laws that affect citizens? How has the EU been affected by the recent enlargements that brought its membership to a diverse group of twenty-seven countries? This book answers these questions with analyses of the EU's legislative system that include the roles played by the European Commission, European Parliament and member states national governments in the Council of Ministers. Robert Thomson examines more than 300 controversial issues in the EU from the past decade and describes many cases of controversial decision-making as well as rigorous comparative analyses. The analyses test competing expectations regarding key aspects of the political system, including the policy demands made by different institutions and member states, the distributions of power among the institutions and member states, and the contents of decision outcomes. These analyses are also highly relevant to the EU's democratic deficit and various reform proposals.
Article
Full-text available
Since 1996, death sentences in America have declined more than 60 percent, reversing a generation-long trend toward greater acceptance of capital punishment. In theory, most Americans continue to support the death penalty. But it is no longer seen as a theoretical matter. Prosecutors, judges, and juries across the country have moved in large numbers to give much greater credence to the possibility of mistakes -- mistakes that in this arena are potentially fatal. The discovery of innocence, documented here through painstaking analyses of media coverage and with newly developed methods, has led to historic shifts in public opinion and to a sharp decline in use of the death penalty by juries across the country. A social cascade, starting with legal clinics and innocence projects, has snowballed into a national phenomenon that may spell the end of the death penalty in America. © Frank R. Baumgartner, Suzanna L. De Boef, and Amber E. Boydstun, 2008.
Article
Full-text available
ABSTRACT Starting from the observation that word co-occurrence analysisneeds to be anchored to the theory of meaning, various issues are discussed with a view to understand what happens when,the words become,numbers,and the software outputs (i.e. tables and charts) become texts to be interpreted. In particular, with reference to the representation of the word co- occurrences into vector-space model, linguistic and semiotic theories are presented as tools for discussing assertions as “two (or more) words that tend to occur ,in similar linguistic contexts (i.e. to have,similar co-occurrence patterns) tend to resemble,each other in mean- ing”. Two main references are used: to structural linguistics (particularly Z.S. Harris, L. Hjelmslev and A. Greimas) and to semiotics (particularly C.S. Peirce and U. Eco), consid- ering meaning ,either within the structural relationships between ,expression and content forms or as result of abductive inference. Finally, looking at software outputs as multi- semiotic objects, i.e. like a sort of texts to be interpreted, the discussion addresses herme- neutic questions.
Article
Full-text available
We present a new way of extracting policy positions from political texts that treats texts not as discourses to be understood and interpreted but rather, as data in the form of words. We compare this approach to previous methods of text analysis and use it to replicate published estimates of the policy positions of political parties in Britain and Ireland, on both economic and social policy dimensions. We "export" the method to a non-English-language environment, analyzing the policy positions of German parties, including the PDS as it entered the former West German party system. Finally, we extend its application beyond the analysis of party manifestos, to the estimation of political positions from legislative speeches. Our "language-blind" word scoring technique successfully replicates published policy estimates without the substantial costs of time and labor that these require. Furthermore, unlike in any previous method for extracting policy positions from political texts, we provide uncertainty measures for our estimates, allowing analysts to make informed judgments of the extent to which differences between two estimated policy positions can be viewed as significant or merely as products of measurement error.
Article
Full-text available
Interest groups are a major channel through which citizens can express their opinions to decision-makers. Their participation in policymaking may improve decision-making processes by supporting policies that are in line with citizen preferences and blocking policies that solely reflect the interests of the governing elite. At the same time, however, intense interest group pressures may make it difficult for policy-makers to implement the most efficient policies since such policies often impose costs on parts of the public. Competition among interest groups over the distribution of economic gains may also slow down the rate of economic growth (Olson 1982). Finally, if some groups constantly win, interest group politics may undermine the legitmacy of electorally accountable decision making in a democracy.
Article
Full-text available
Although there exists a large and well-documented “race gap” between whites and blacks in their support for the death penalty, we know relatively little about the nature of these differences and how the races respond to various arguments against the penalty. To explore such differences, we embedded an experiment in a national survey in which respondents are randomly assigned to one of several argument conditions. We find that African Americans are more responsive to argument frames that are both racial (i.e., the death penalty is unfair because most of the people who are executed are black) and nonracial (i.e., too many innocent people are being executed) than are whites, who are highly resistant to persuasion and, in the case of the racial argument, actually become more supportive of the death penalty upon learning that it discriminates against blacks. These interracial differences in response to the framing of arguments against the death penalty can be explained, in part, by the degree to which people attribute the causes of black criminality to either dispositional or systemic forces (i.e., the racial biases of the criminal justice system).
Article
Full-text available
During the 2008 election season, politicians from both sides of the aisle promised to rid government of lobbyists’ undue influence. For the authors of Lobbying and Policy Change, the most extensive study ever done on the topic, these promises ring hollow—not because politicians fail to keep them but because lobbies are far less influential than political rhetoric suggests. Based on a comprehensive examination of ninety-eight issues, this volume demonstrates that sixty percent of recent lobbying campaigns failed to change policy despite millions of dollars spent trying. Why? The authors find that resources explain less than five percent of the difference between successful and unsuccessful efforts. Moreover, they show, these attempts must overcome an entrenched Washington system with a tremendous bias in favor of the status quo. Though elected officials and existing policies carry more weight, lobbies have an impact too, and when advocates for a given issue finally succeed, policy tends to change significantly. The authors argue, however, that the lobbying community so strongly reflects elite interests that it will not fundamentally alter the balance of power unless its makeup shifts dramatically in favor of average Americans’ concerns.
Article
Full-text available
During the period of exceedingly critical news coverage surrounding the Monica Lewinsky debacle, President Bill Clinton's job approval ratings were at some of the highest levels they reached during his tenure in office. Given this public response, many pollsters, pundits, and scholars argued that news coverage of the scandal must have been largely irrelevant to the public. Our view counters these claims by advancing a theory that recognizes that citizens' political preferences are influenced substantially by frames and cues provided by news media. To test our ideas, we draw upon three types of data, all from January 1993 to March 1999: ( a ) a longitudinal content analysis of major news media, ( b ) a time-trend of opinion polls on presidential job approval, and ( c ) monthly estimates of real disposable personal income, seasonally adjusted. Analyses reveal that news media emphasis upon and framing of certain issue regimes—to the framing of the scandal in terms of the strategic motives of conservative elites.
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents the results of an experimental study of some common document clustering techniques. In particular, we compare the two main approaches to document clustering, agglomerative hierarchical clustering and K-means. (For K-means we used a "standard" K-means algorithm and a variant of K-means, "bisecting" K-means.) Hierarchical clustering is often portrayed as the better quality clustering approach, but is limited because of its quadratic time complexity. In contrast, K-means and its variants have a time complexity which is linear in the number of documents, but are thought to produce inferior clusters. Sometimes K-means and agglomerative hierarchical approaches are combined so as to "get the best of both worlds." However, our results indicate that the bisecting K-means technique is better than the standard K-means approach and as good or better than the hierarchical approaches that we tested for a variety of cluster evaluation metrics. We propose an explanation for these r...
Article
This article outlines a rigorous method for studying the ways that news media frame contentious issues. The method is based on the VBPro family of computer programs for content analysis. Output from the VBPro mapping program for multidimensional scaling based on co-occurence of key terms is cluster analyzed to discern the frames or points of view in texts that can unambiguously be attributed to competing stakeholders. These frames can be used to investigate propositions about news stories. An example is presented from a study of 1,465 Associated Press articles on wetlands dispatched across an 11-year period beginning in 1982. The results demonstrate that the method provides an objective means of investigating stakeholder influence on news and patterns of change in frames across time.
Article
Some interest groups are more successful than others in translating their policy preferences into policy outputs at the EU level. This study investigates why this is the case by testing an explanatory framework emphasizing the impact of the policy environment on interest groups' preference attainment during the policy formulation stage of EU legislation in the environmental policy. The findings show that preferences having a median positioning on the policy space and demands for no regulation are more likely to be translated into policy outcomes. The type of interest a group represents, as well as its organizational form, are also found to be strong predictors of preference attainment.
Book
Why can some interest groups influence policy-making while others cannot? Even though this question is central to the study of politics, we know little about the factors explaining interest group influence. Understanding lobbying success should be of particular concern to scholars of European politics since the European Union constitutes a promising political opportunity structure for organized interests. This book sheds light on the impact of interest groups on European policy-making and makes a major contribution to the study of both European Union politics and interest groups more generally. Klüver develops a comprehensive theoretical model for understanding lobbying success and presents an extensive empirical analysis of interest group influence on policy-making in the EU. The book relies on a large, new and innovative dataset that combines a wide variety of data sources including a quantitative text analysis of European Commission consultations, an online survey of interest groups, information gathered on interest group websites and legislative data retrieved from EU databases. This book analyzes interest group influence across 56 policy issues and 2,696 interest groups and shows that lobbying is an exchange relationship in which the European institutions trade influence for information, citizen support and economic power. Importantly, this book demonstrates that it is not sufficient to solely focus on individual interest groups, but that it is crucial how interest groups come together in issue-specific lobbying coalitions. Lobbying is a collective enterprise in which information supply, citizen support and economic power of entire lobbying coalitions are decisive for lobbying success.
Article
Why does lobbying success in the European Union (EU) vary across interest groups? Even though this question is central to the study of EU policy-making, only few have dealt with it. The small number of existing studies is moreover characterized by a multitude of hypotheses and contradictory findings. This article aims to overcome these shortcomings by presenting a theoretical exchange model that identifies information supply, citizen support and economic power of entire lobbying camps as the major determinants of lobbying success. The hypotheses are empirically evaluated based on a large new dataset. By combining a quantitative text analysis of interest group submissions to Commission consultations with an online survey among interest groups, the theoretical expectations are tested across a large number of policy issues and interest groups while controlling for individual interest group and issue characteristics. The empirical analysis confirms the theoretical expectations indicating that lobbying is a collective enterprise.
Article
The analysis of interest group influence is crucial in order to explain policy outcomes and to assess the democratic legitimacy of the European Union. However, owing to methodological difficulties in operationalizing influence, only few have studied it. This article therefore proposes a new approach to the measurement of influence, drawing on quantitative text analysis. By comparing interest groups’ policy positions with the final policy output, one can draw conclusions about the winners and losers of the decision-making process. In order to examine the applicability of text analysis, a case study is presented comparing hand-coding, WORDSCORES and Wordfish. The results correlate highly and text analysis proves to be a powerful tool to measure interest groups’ policy positions, paving the way for the large-scale analysis of interest group influence.
Article
This paper has two parallel aims — one methodological and one more substantive. With respect to methodology, the basic motivation of this paper is to assess the extent to which different automated content analysis software yield broadly similar results, when applied to the same corpora. The two corpora analysed here originate from our book (Deliberating Monetary Policy) that seeks better to understand deliberations on US monetary policy. In our book, we sought to capture the content and substance of the discourse in the House and Senate hearings on the Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Report over a 33 year period (1976-2008). Our empirical analysis of the textual data in Deliberating Monetary Policy employed Alceste as the automated content analysis software. This paper presents a specific challenge to the software by employing two other automated content analysis software on the transcripts of the congressional hearings — T-Lab and Dtm-Vic. These two software packages were chosen because they both employ methods and functions that approximate some of those found in Alceste and so provide enough common functionality to allow comparisons of the results, without in any way serving as actual replicas of Alceste. Here the task not only is to challenge the initial findings but also to push beyond them. In terms of substance, this paper also asks, what more can we learn from adding new methodological perspectives?
Article
Does lobbying success in the European Union vary systematically across interest group type? Interest groups lobby the European institutions in order to achieve policy decisions that are in line with their own preferences. While some argue that different types of interest groups are equally able to shape European policy-making, others contend that lobbying success is systematically biased towards some powerful interest groups. The empirical evidence is contradictory as previous studies focused either on a specific interest group type or on a specific policy area so that it is difficult to draw general conclusions. This study therefore presents an extensive empirical analysis of lobbying success across a wide variety of interest groups and policy issues by combining a quantitative text analysis of Commission consultations with an online survey among interest groups. The findings are promising as they indicate that lobbying success does not vary systematically across interest group type.
Article
An influential model of deliberative democracy advances a principle of reciprocity as a norm of democratic debate on morally controversial issues. This norm is at odds with behaviour that has been observed in political campaigning and policy making where advocates of competing positions talk past one another. Does this inconsistency stem from a contrast between the normative and empirical or from not considering empirically plausible practices of democratic debate in which reciprocity might be respected? One such practice is free votes on conscience issues in the UK parliament. This article examines six second reading debates in the UK House of Commons on abortion legislation to assess whether, in favourable circumstances, political debate is consistent with reciprocity. Utilising computer-aided text analysis, via the Alceste program, it finds no gross departure from the norm of reciprocity, suitably operationalised, but neither does it find complete conformity to the norm of reciprocity. Because advocacy is an important component of political representation, deliberative norms are qualified in practice.
Article
Students of politics have identified a variety of actors who appear to influence the federal bureaucracy's implementation of public policy, including Congress, the president, and interest groups. These lines of research, however, have often portrayed interest groups as actors with indirect influence (who, for example, work through or with Congress), rather than assessing the direct influence of interest groups on bureaucratic policy outputs. I conduct a test of direct interest group influence by analyzing an original data set composed of 1,444 interest group comments in reaction to forty federal agency rules. I find, contrary to the expectations of the extant literature, that the formal participation of interest groups during rulemaking can, and often does, alter the content of policy within the “fourth branch” of government. I conclude that those who voice their preferences during the notice and comment period rulemaking are often able to change government policy outputs to better match their preferences.
Article
Using data from more than 19,000 reports filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, we analyze the distribution of lobbying on a random sample of 137 issues and find a tremendous skewness. The median issue involved only 15 interest groups, whereas 8 of the issues involved more than 300 interest groups. The top 5% of the issues accounted for more than 45% of the lobbying, whereas the bottom 50% of the issues accounted for less than 3% of the total. This distribution makes generalizations about interest group conflict difficult and helps explain why many scholars have disagreed about the abilities of lobbyists to get what they want. We also confirm and expand upon previous findings regarding the tremendous predominance of business firms in the Washington lobbying population.
Article
This article focuses on individuals' willingness to attribute rape effects to pornography. Using General Social Survey data from 1975 and 1986, the paper examines (1) the attitudinal and experiential variables that shape acceptance of this causal attribution; (2) the impact of elite-level efforts to re-frame the pornography issue to incorporate this causal attribution; and (3) interaction effects. The analysis shows the following: 1. Both experience with X-rated movies and a number of other attitudinal and social location variables are significant predictors. 2. There is no evidence of media effects, thus suggesting the limitations of re-framing efforts. 3. There are substantial interaction effects involving gender and both religiosity and exposure to X-rated movies.
Article
Scholars have avoided studying interest group influence because of the difficulty operationalising the concept. The research presented here introduces a new way of measuring lobbying success and lays out a model of its determinants. To understand why interest groups sometimes succeed and at other times fail, we must consider the institutional structure of the political system within which the advocates are operating; the characteristics of the issue at hand; and finally the characteristics of the interest group itself and their lobbying strategy. I test these factors with original data based on interviews with 149 advocates in Washington D.C. and Brussels active on a random sample of 47 policy issues. From the results, issue context emerges as a much more important determinant of lobbying success than institutional differences. The institutional differences that do emerge suggest that direct elections coupled with private campaign finance lead to winner-take-all outcomes biased in favour of wealthier business interests, while the lack of these institutional characteristics leads to more balanced policy compromises with more advocates achieving some of their policy goals.
Article
We test the proposition that the federal bureaucracy exhibits a “bias toward business” during notice and comment rulemaking. We analyze over 30 bureaucratic rules and almost 1,700 comments over the period of 1994 to 2001. We find that business commenters, but not nonbusiness commenters, hold important influence over the content of final rules. We also demonstrate that as the proportion of business commenters increases, so too does the influence of business interests. These findings contrast with previous empirical studies and generally suggest that notice and comment procedures have not succeeded in “democratizing” the agency policymaking process to the extent sometimes suggested in the normative rulemaking literature.
Article
Political scientists lack methods to efficiently measure the priorities political actors emphasize in statements. To address this limitation, I introduce a statistical model that attends to the structure of political rhetoric when measuring expressed priorities: statements are naturally organized by author. The expressed agenda model exploits this structure to simultaneously estimate the topics in the texts, as well as the attention political actors allocate to the estimated topics. I apply the method to a collection of over 24,000 press releases from senators from 2007, which I demonstrate is an ideal medium to measure how senators explain their work in Washington to constituents. A set of examples validates the estimated priorities and demonstrates their usefulness for testing theories of how members of Congress communicate with constituents. The statistical model and its extensions will be made available in a forthcoming free software package for the R computing language.
Article
In monetary policy, decision makers seek to influence the expectations of agents in ways that can avoid making abrupt, dramatic, and unexpected decisions. Yet in October 1979, Chairman Paul Volcker led the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) unanimously to shift its course in managing U.S. monetary policy, which in turn eventually brought the era of high inflation to an end. Although some analysts argue that “the presence and influence of one individual” - namely, Volcker - is sufficient to explain the policy shift, this overlooks an important feature of monetary policymaking. FOMC chairmen-however, omnipotent they may appear-do not act alone. They require the agreement of other committee members, and in the 1979 revolution, the decision was unanimous. How, then, did Chairman Volcker manage to bring a previously divided committee to a consensus in October 1979, and moreover, how did he retain the support of the committee throughout the following year in the face of mounting political and economic pressure against the Fed? We use automated content analysis to examine the discourse of the FOMC (with this discourse recorded in the verbatim transcripts of meetings). In applying this methodology, we assess the force of the arguments used by Chairman Volcker and find that deliberation in the FOMC did indeed “matter” both in 1979 and 1980. Specifically, Volcker led his colleagues in coming to understand and apply the idea of credible commitment in U.S. monetary policymaking.
Article
Previous methods of analyzing the substance of political attention have had to make several restrictive assumptions or been prohibitively costly when applied to large-scale political texts. Here, we describe a topic model for legislative speech, a statistical learning model that uses word choices to infer topical categories covered in a set of speeches and to identify the topic of specific speeches. Our method estimates, rather than assumes, the substance of topics, the keywords that identify topics, and the hierarchical nesting of topics. We use the topic model to examine the agenda in the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2004. Using a new database of over 118,000 speeches (70,000,000 words) from the Congressional Record, our model reveals speech topic categories that are both distinctive and meaningfully interrelated and a richer view of democratic agenda dynamics than had previously been possible.
Article
How do people make sense of politics? Integrating empirical results in communication studies on framing with models of comprehension in cognitive psychology, we argue that people understand complicated event sequences by organizing information in a manner that conforms to the structure of a good story. To test this claim, we carried out a pair of experiments. In each, we presented people with news reports on the 1999 Kosovo crisis that were framed in story form, either to promote or prevent U.S. intervention. Consistent with expectations, we found that framing news about the crisis as a story affected what people remembered, how they structured what they remembered, and the opinions they expressed on the actions government should take.
Article
Why are some interest groups able to lobby political decisions successfully whereas others are not? This article suggests that the issue context is an important source of variation because it can facilitate or hamper the ability of interest groups to lobby decision-makers successfully. In order to test the effect of issue characteristics, this article draws on a new, unprecedented data set of interest group lobbying in the European Union. Using quantitative text analysis to analyse Commission consultations, this article studies lobbying success across 2696 interest groups and 56 policy issues. The findings indicate that lobbying success indeed varies with the issue context, depending on the relative size of lobbying coalitions and the salience of policy issues, whereas individual group characteristics do not exhibit any systematic effect.
Article
Recent advances in computational content analysis have provided scholars promising new ways for estimating party positions. However, existing text-based methods face challenges in producing valid and reliable time-series data. This article proposes a scaling algorithm called WORDFISH to estimate policy positions based on word frequencies in texts. The technique allows researchers to locate parties in one or multiple elections. We demonstrate the algorithm by estimating the positions of German political parties from 1990 to 2005 using word frequencies in party manifestos. The extracted positions reflect changes in the party system more accurately than existing time-series estimates. In addition, the method allows researchers to examine which words are important for placing parties on the left and on the right. We find that words with strong political connotations are the best discriminators between parties. Finally, a series of robustness checks demonstrate that the estimated positions are insensitive to distributional assumptions and document selection.
Article
This paper examines the struggle between the legislative and judicial branches by focusing specifically on congressional influences on the behavior of federal judges. We argue that Congress may constrain individual judicial behavior by passing statutes containing detailed language. To test this thesis we borrow from the bureaucratic politics literature to introduce and test a new measure of statutory constraint. Using data from the U.S. Courts of Appeals we find that appellate court behavior is constrained significantly by statutory language, although this constraint is asymmetric across ideology. We discover substantial differences between Democratic and Republican appointees both in terms of statutory constraint and ideological voting. The data indicate judges appointed by Democratic presidents are constrained by statutory language in criminal cases. Similarly, Republican appointees are constrained by statutes in civil rights cases. Yet, neither Democrats nor Republicans are constrained in economic cases.
Article
I employ automated content analysis to measure the dimensionality of Senate debates on the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and compare these results with the final vote. The underlying verbal conflict leading up to the final roll call vote contains two important dimensions: (1) an emotive battle over the abortion procedure itself, and (2) the battle over the constitutionality of the bill. Surprisingly, senators appear not to have voted along the first dimension of the verbal conflict, but rather along the second dimension. The analysis of the deliberations of senators not only enables us to understand the complexity of the arguments that is not captured in the vote, but it also uncovers (and measures empirically) the strategies employed by legislators to shape the relevant lines of conflict, and ultimately, the final content of the bill.
Article
On Sunday, October 10th, 2004, the New York Times Magazine featured an article with the cover title, “Really, What Does He Think? John Kerry and the Post-9/11 World” (Bai 2004). On the cover of the magazine was a serious-looking photo of Senator Kerry, superimposed with keywords such as “Terrorism,” “Iraq,” “Al Qaeda,” “Multilateralism,” “Nuclear proliferation,” and so on. While the article itself was intriguing, even more intriguing was the magazine's attempt to capture Kerry's core ideas on American national security with the use of keyword graphics—namely, the keywords on the cover, placed in what appeared to be a random order around the photo of Kerry, and the underlining of “John Kerry,” “terrorism,” and “Americans” in the inside title. Catchy graphics, but hardly an accurate depiction of the keywords that might actually represent Kerry's thinking on American national security. And, for all the comparison made in the article itself with President Bush's stance on national security, where were the graphics for George W.? (They did not emerge in the next New York Times Magazine.) The magazine was, nonetheless, making an important point: that words (and the ideas they represent) are emotive—particularly in the highly charged climate of the 2004 presidential campaign.