Short Course: Politics, Markets, and Organized Interests

Politics, Markets, and Organized Interests: New Questions about Power, Policy, and Influence
Wednesday, September 2, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Hilton Union Square 25

Political scientists have been returning, in recent years, to investigating how politics and markets intersect. Studies have examined how regulators conceptualize the risks associated with consumer products (Vogel, 2012), how businesses operate as polities in their own right through “private politics” (Soule, 2009; Werner, 2012; Büthe, 2011), and there remains the active debate about influence and access linked to business political expenditures (Ansolabehere et al., 2002; Gordon & Hafer, 2005; Bonica, 2013), politics-markets-and-organized-interestsincluding the new independent expenditures since the landmark Citizens United v. FEC ruling (e.g. Dowling and Wichowsky, 2013). This short course seeks to develop an agenda for research at the nexus of states, markets, and organized interests.  At the forefront of debates in the 1960s, questions about power and influence faded from mainstream American Political Science. Contemporary scholars, however, are returning to these debates.  A recent issue of Perspectives on Politics (September 2014), for example, examined the organization of economic interests, the political outcomes of business advocacy, and the connections between economic and political systems. This short course intends to amplify and elaborate scholarship in this seminal area.  The half-day short course will be structured as two symposia, in which speakers discuss key themes relevant to politics, policy, and markets.  Symposium sessions will be highly interactive and give attendees an opportunity to ask engage the speakers and further develop conceptual themes.   We propose six potential areas of inquiry: 1. How do advocacy strategies vary depending on whether activists’ primary target for policy change is a firm instead of a legislature, administrative agency, or court?  2. How do forms of self-regulation and private regulation by industries affect state regulation of business? To what degree are private regulations displacing conventional regulation? 3. How best should we understand the interface between business lobbying and the politics of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?  4. How, and to what effect, are firms engaging in forms of outside lobbying that have been traditionally favored by groups disadvantaged in the political system?   5. How do policies surrounding disclosure of political spending affect business political activity?  6. What are the effects of strategic action (in #1-5 above) on democratic participation and inequality?  The intersection of politics and markets offers scholars an opportunity to ask important questions about how political actors, business actors, and organized interests behave, why they do so, and with what effects.  These questions are important in their own right but are also consequential for understanding how the rules of the game shape the broader landscape of American politics.   Because these topics encompass a wide range of theoretical approaches and methodologies, from historical-institutional research to large-N cross-sectional studies, this course is open and welcoming to scholars from diverse traditions. It will be useful to scholars already working on related topics, scholars seeking to expand their network and knowledge, as well as emerging scholars interested in new ways of understanding contemporary politics.

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