The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs

Living Edition
| Editors: Phil Harris, Alberto Bitonti, Craig S. Fleisher, Anne Skorkjær Binderkrantz

The Evolution of Lobbying

Living reference work entry


While lobbying probably began once someone in any society decided to start setting rules and redistributing resources, its very early history is difficult to trace. But since it assumed a more organizational form in the 1500s–1600s, albeit still not known as “lobbying,” records do exist which can be used to describe particular case studies. By the middle of the eighteenth century, groups or factions which represented socioeconomic interests were becoming increasingly common. As a recognizably modern industry, however, we see the outlines of a relatively sophisticated interest group system in both the UK and USA around 1850–1860. That period marks the first definite wave of expansion in lobbying, followed by others around 1890–1910 and since the 1980s. It is striking that many of the tactics which were being developed almost 200 years ago are still in use today. The cornerstones of professional lobbying in Washington by 1900 (though some were slower to develop in the UK) –...


Lobbying History UK USA Lobbyist Lobbying tactics Interest group system 
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Further Reading

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ulster UniversityNewtownabbeyUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Phil Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Business Research Institute and China CentreUniversity of ChesterChesterUK