Public affairs practice and lobbying inequality: Reform and regulation of the influence game
journal contributionposted on 17.01.2018, 16:02 by Scott Davidson
Although vigorous lobbying by groups within society is essential for the functioning of democracy, it is widely perceived that resource-rich groups, particularly corporations, enjoy unfair advantages and influence. This perception damages public trust in the efficacy of civic participation and the legitimacy of policymaking. This problem intermittently leads reformers and scholars to assess and develop policies that might assist in addressing lobbying power imbalances. This paper takes up Moloney's call for exploring ways of intervening in the communicative economy to directly address the problem of lobbying inequality. It considers the extent of lobbying inequalities and theoretical frameworks for understanding how resources enable an influence advantage, before assessing the types of regulatory approaches that have been used by democratic institutions. Voluntary measures that could be taken by the corporate sector and professional associations are considered, alongside the current interest in using digital platforms to identify inequalities and incorporate public preferences as a variable in allocating lobbying resources.