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Consumer Interests between Europeanization and Domestic Traditions: Italy in Comparative Perspective

Paolo Graziano

The literature on European interest groups has flourished over the past years (Eising, 2007; Beyers, Eising,Maloney, 2008). Much attention has been given to more traditional economic interest groups (Greenwood, 2007),whereas social movements have been less analyzed - although recently studies have been growing (Imig andTarrow, 2001). Surprisingly enough, consumers' interests have been neglected in studies covering interest groupsin Europe, notwithstanding their European tradition and their increasing relevance both at the European level andat the national level. The paper is devoted to the analysis of the emergence of consumers' interests in Europeand, by adopting an Europeanization approach, it unveils the dynamics of multilevel interaction with respect toconsumers' interest representation. First, the paper analyses the peculiarity of the type of interests with respect tothe other more consolidated ones (for example, labour interests), developing a specific framework for analysis;secondly, it describes the political logic behind the development of consumers' interests in the EU; third, it brieflyillustrates the evolution of consumers' interest groups at the EU level; fourth, it looks at the Italian case incomparative perspective in order to understand the role that Europeanization mechanisms have played in therecent development of consumers' interest representation at the national level. The paper will end with someconcluding remarks regarding the reasons that explain the difficult consolidation of consumer interests in Europe,with a particular focus on Italy.

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