Lester Milbrath's 'The Washington Lobbyists' Fifty Years On: An Enduring Legacy

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Published in 1963, Lester Milbrath's The Washington Lobbyists has become indispensable for understanding how lobbying operates and the societal benefits it brings. Milbrath there presented the first detailed survey of lobbying activities, and his findings have been generally affirmed by a range of later studies, although his conviction that lobbying was an essentially benign force which exerted relatively little impact on policy has been more contested. Milbrath's theoretical model of lobbying as a communication process has enduring value to scholars and practitioners alike, and the definition of lobbying which he formulated continues to be useful. This article seeks explicitly to celebrate Milbrath's outstanding research on lobbyists, more than 50 years after his book was published, and highlights some elements of Milbrath's work which have not yet been fully explored by scholars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Aug 2018


  • Lester Milbrath
  • lobbying
  • lobbyists
  • Washington
  • interest groups
  • communication
  • information
  • influence


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