The Evolution of Lobbying

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


While lobbying probably began once someone in any society decided to start setting rules and redistributing resources, its very early history is difficult to trace. But since it assumed a more organizational form in the 1500s-1600s, albeit still not known as ‘lobbying’, records do exist which can be used to describe particular case studies. By the middle of the eighteenth century groups or factions which represented socio-economic interests were becoming increasingly common. As a recognizably modern industry, however, we see the outlines of a relatively sophisticated interest group system in both the UK and US around 1850-60. That period marks the first definite wave of expansion in lobbying, followed by others around 1890-1910 and since the 1980s.It is striking that many of the tactics which were being developed almost 200 years ago are still in use today. The cornerstones of professional lobbying in Washington by 1900 (though some were slower to develop in the UK) – direct advocacy, coalitions, grassroots, policy expertise and electoral engagement – are still central to lobbying today. The means of communication available to lobbyists have changed very dramatically, but the fundamentals of exercising influence over public policy decisions are fairly constant.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs
EditorsPhil Harris, Alberto Bitonti, Craig Fleisher, Anne Binderkrantz Skorkjaer
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Dec 2019


  • Lobbying


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