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The term “lobbocracy” has been coined to describe societies which are heavily influenced by public relations firms and lobbyists, setting up a situation in which the general public may lack the ability to effect change, or be unable to access the information it needs to make informed decisions. Lobbocracies arise in nations where freedom of the press is highly valued, giving a wide variety of individuals access to the open forum, and making it easy for lobbyists to influence public opinions with advertising campaigns.
A lobbocracy can work in a wide range of ways. At its most basic, a lobbocracy is a society in which a lot of the information available in the press is provided by special interest groups, sometimes in the guise of other organizations. For example, many major corporations have special interest groups linked with their research and development arms. Rather than issuing a direct statement, a tobacco company might use the special interest group to propagate information, relying on the fact that many readers and listeners will not be aware of the connection and the fact that the information is not provided without bias. Thanks to the financial clout behind the special interest group, it can ensure that the information reaches a wide swath of the population.
Lobbyists and special interest groups may also have a great deal of influence over politics in a lobbocracy. For example, they may have direct access to lawmakers, and they may be allowed to provide gifts to lawmakers and other political figures which could be used to sway their opinions. Lobbyists and special interest groups also directly fund campaigns, promoting candidates who will be favorable to their interests.
If a lobbocracy is allowed to run unchecked, citizens may not be aware of how much their society is influenced by the work of lobbyists, many of whom remain in the background. Because individual citizens lack the clout of lobbying organizations, they may also find it difficult to discuss issues directly with public officials, even those they have elected. They may also be unable to access unbiased information if the media is heavily weighted with information provided by special interest groups.
Influencing the press can be a powerful tool in a lobbocracy, especially in nations where the press is ensured numerous freedoms. No one wants to shut down the press or attempt to control the materials released by the press, but the provision of supposedly fair and balanced organization from special interest groups poses a unique challenge to a country which wants well-informed citizens. While citizens could be encouraged to research the sources of information, they cannot be forced to do so, and many lobbyists take advantage of this, releasing studies and other information published by special interest groups with misleading names or missions.