Advocacy in European Civil Societies: Organizational Trade-offs Between Selective and Collective Incentive Provision


Abstract Civil society organizations (CSOs) are a cornerstone of democracy in Europe. Nonetheless, “civil society” and “political society” should not be equated as membership-based organizations are not necessarily politically engaged. This paper theorizes and empirically examines which membership-based CSOs engage in interest representation through sustained advocacy activity. We propose an incentive-theoretical framework on CSO investments in advocacy activities—a collective, non-exclusive incentive from which also non-members can profit—by organizations fundamentally dependent on member support. Theorizing how CSOs' own structural characteristics, resource dependencies, and government demand for CSO input affect how CSOs reconcile selective and collective incentive provision, we test our hypotheses using new data from four recent surveys conducted in four European democracies. In line with our framework, CSOs organizing individual citizens rather than corporate actors and those pursuing member interests are less likely to engage in advocacy, while CSO professionalization and state funding access enhance CSOs’ propensities to do so. Furthermore, the analysis shows that the former structural CSO characteristics are similarly relevant for CSO advocacy across distinct country settings, while the role of resource variables is mediated by institutional context revealing an important source of inequality in democratic interest representation.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Politics, History and International Relations
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Aston Centre for Europe
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: © The Author(s) (2022). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology and Political Science,Anthropology,History
Publication ISSN: 1534-7605
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2024 07:26
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 13:01
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Related URLs: https://academi ... 5010?login=true (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2021-12-28
Published Online Date: 2021-12-28
Accepted Date: 2021-10-05
Authors: Bolleyer, Nicole
Correa, Patricia (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-9363-6347)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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