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CSLS Speaker Series – PHIL PARVIN

Monday, November 5, 2018 @ 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm

The Center for the Study of Law and Society 

is pleased to announce the next speaker in the Fall 2018 CSLS Speaker Series




Phil Parvin is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Loughborough University, UK


Presenting his research

“The Ethics of Political Lobbying: Power, Influence, and Democratic Decline”



The ability of unelected organisations of one kind or another to seek to influence elected representatives is a crucial aspect of democracy. It is also a profound challenge to it. In this piece, I argue that while in theory lobbying can and should be defended as an important aspect of representation, in practice it presents a significant problem. I argue that the problem it poses is one of the most urgent and neglected in contemporary democratic theory, and one which normative political philosophers from a wide range of theoretical backgrounds should consider a priority. I argue that liberal democratic states around the world have experienced changes which have resulted in the estrangement of citizens from the democratic system and the rise in number and influence of unelected groups. Lobby groups now dominate governance and policy making, which takes place at the elite level, far removed from citizens. Furthermore, the rise of lobby groups has further entrenched the political dominance of wealthy citizens, and marginalised the concerns of poorer ones. I reject popular critiques of lobbying – for example, that lobbying is a form of corruption, or that lobbyists represent a cabal of anti-democrats at the heart of the system – and argue that the problem is much bigger, much deeper than these critiques suggest. I suggest that lobbying poses a dual challenge: it is a first order and a second order problem. I argue that while it is possible to identify measures which might help the situation, it is currently all but impossible for such measures to be implemented, for reasons I outline.


Please join us on Monday, November 5 from 12:45-2:00p in the Philip Selznick Seminar Room, 2240 Piedmont Ave. 


Professor Parvin’s paper is available on our website and in hard copy at the Center.
Coffee and water are provided. We invite you to bring your own “bag lunch.”
We are looking forward to seeing you soon!


Jonathan Simon, Faculty Director

Rosann Greenspan, Executive Director



Monday, November 5, 2018
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Center for the Study of Law and Society


Philip Selznick Seminar Room
2240 Piedmont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150 United States
+ Google Map

Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.

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