European Political Science

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 306–321 | Cite as

what is access? a discussion of the definition and measurement of interest group access

  • anne s binderkrantz
  • helene h pedersen
  • jan beyers


Interest group research has focused extensively on political access. While access does not guarantee influence, it is customarily seen as a crucial step towards gaining political influence. It is argued that groups with access are, all else equal, more likely to be influential than groups without access. Biased access may thus result in biased influence. On the basis of a review of this literature, the article shows how the concept of access rests on an intuitive understanding rather than an explicit definition. This hampers methodological discussions of measurement. We propose to define access as instances where a group has entered a political arena (parliament, administration, or media) passing a threshold controlled by relevant gatekeepers (politicians, civil servants, or journalists). On the basis of this discussion, we compare operationalisations based on our proposed definition with some of the major alternatives found in the literature.


interest groups access democracy measurement 



This research was supported by the Danish Council for Independent Research, grant no. 0602-01212B. The authors thank Rainer Eising and two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

41304_2016_46_MOESM1_ESM.doc (62 kb)
Online Appendix


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • anne s binderkrantz
    • 1
  • helene h pedersen
    • 1
  • jan beyers
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Aarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Antwerp Centre for Institutions and Multilevel Politics, University of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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