Opportunity Structures in the EU Multi-Level System

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Series Title
Series Details Vol.31, No.6, November 2008, p1129-1146
Publication Date November 2008
ISSN 0140-2382
Content Type

Abstract: A wide range of approaches on EU interest representation rely on an (explicit or implicit) notion of 'political opportunity structure'. Through a systematic review of four literatures (social movements and political contention, resource exchange in EU interest representation, venue shopping, and the political construction of scale), we show that these approaches exhibit close affinities in the way they use and conceptualise a notion of political opportunity structure. At the same time, these literatures reveal two distinct perspectives: one that views opportunity structures as a fixed external constraint on interest group behaviour (what we call an exogenous perspective) and one that views them as the outcome of social and political processes in which interest groups themselves participate (an endogenous perspective). We argue that theoretical and empirical progress can be made by systematically and explicitly analysing the dynamic interplay between the exogenous and endogenous elements of opportunity structures.

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