How does diversity benefit society

Associations and lobbying

Beyond corruption scandals, associations are a "school of democracy": They bundle and select interests, offer citizens the opportunity to participate and enable society to control itself.


What sounds like a banality is a core phrase in the self-image of a pluralistic community: Associations are indispensable for the functionality of political systems. [1] Regardless of this, they have to contend with considerable prejudice. In the public perception, association representatives dominate the political process, undermine the democratically legitimized institutions and buy political decisions that benefit their respective association.

The prejudice that associations degrade political institutions, processes and actors to a plaything of organized interests is difficult to get rid of. [2] The "rule of associations" [3], formulated as a question by Theodor Eschenburg in the 1960s, was unjustifiably understood as a fact. Titles in scientific publications that are kept ambiguous show associations as "silent power" [4] and unintentionally contribute to negative skin gout. The positive connotation of pluralism has given way to the disreputable "lobbyism". [5]

In addition to social skepticism, additional problems have arisen: The willingness to volunteer and civic [6] is decreasing more and more, which is what associations in social service sectors in particular have to struggle with. [7] In addition, the phenomenon of the "free rider" is gaining ground more and more, who profits from the results of a collective good provided by association work without his own commitment. [8] The plight of individual associations and entire association sectors is only perceived superficially. With the weakness of individual association sectors, however, a problem that affects society as a whole is formulated. The fact that the around 4,000 associations that are active nationwide and are registered in the lobby list of the German Bundestag [9] have, in addition to their actual work, also a considerable practical democratic value, has only been discussed in passing. [10]