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Do transparency and publicity have the power to civilise politics? In deliberative democratic theory this is a common claim. Publicity, it is argued, forces actors to switch from market-style bargaining to a behaviour more appropriate for the political sphere, where the proper way of reaching agreement is by convincing others using public-spirited arguments. Daniel Naurin has conducted the first comprehensive analysis and test of the theory of publicity's civilising effect. The theory is tested on business lobbyists - presumably the most market-oriented actors in politics - acting on different arenas characterised by varying degrees of transparency and publicity. Innovative scenario-interviews with lobbying consultants in Brussels and in Stockholm are compared and contrasted with a unique sample of previously confidential lobbying letters. The results are both disappointing and encouraging to deliberative democratic theorists. While the positive force of publicity seems to be overrated, it is found that even behind closed doors business lobbyists must adapt to the norms of the forum.
Daniel Naurin is Research Fellow at Goteborg University. He has previously been Marie Curie Fellow at the Robert Schumann Centre for Advanced Studies, EUI, Florence, and visiting Fellow at the Sussex European Institute, Sussex University and at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm.