How do interest groups legitimate their policy advocacy? Reconsidering linkage and internal democracy in times of digital disruption

Bret Fraussen and Darren Halpin in Public Administration: “The ongoing embrace of interest groups as agents capable of addressing democratic deficits in governing institutions is in large part because they are assumed to contribute democratic legitimacy to policy processes. Nonetheless, they face the challenge of legitimating their policy advocacy in democratic terms, clarifying what makes them legitimate partners in governance. In this article we suggest that digital innovations have disrupted the established mechanisms of legitimation. While the impact of this disruption is most easily demonstrated in the rise of a small number of ‘digital natives’, we argue that the most substantive impact has been on more conventional groups, which typically follow legitimation logics of either representation or solidarity. While several legacy groups are experimenting with new legitimation approaches, the opportunities provided by technology seem to offer more organizational benefits to groups employing the logic of solidarity, and appear less compatible with the more traditional logic of representation….(More)”.