Daniel Naurin is Director of ARENA Centre for European Studies, and Professor of Political Science at PluriCourts - Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, both at the University of Oslo.
The interest group literature has long struggled with how to empirically approach the normative idea of a non-biased group system. While most previous attempts have focused on the descriptive representation of different types of groups, we argue that substantive representation of citizens’ attitudes is closer to the democratic principle of equal effective participation. We develop a methodological approach that captures substantive representation with respect to agenda priorities and policies, by surveying interest groups on how much time they spend on lobbying in different policy areas, and in which direction they lobby on salient policy issues. The responses are compared with opinion data to estimate the level of political (in)equality. Our findings from the case of Sweden—where we would expect relatively high levels of equality, but instead find striking levels of inequality based on socio-economic status—highlight the perseverance of what Schattschneider once called the upper-class bias of the pressure system.