Mihail Petkov
Mihail Petkov
Social Policy School of Social and Political Science
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Policy networks Public policy interest groups subgovernments policy community lobbying

PhD Title

Policy Circles: Sub-types of the Parentela (working title)


From 01.2014 to 04.2014 – Tutor, Social and Political Enquiry, University of Edinburgh

From 01.2014 to 04.2014 – Tutor, Democracy in Comparative Perspective, University of Edinburgh

From 09.2013 to 11.2013 – Tutor, Introduction to Politics and IR, U.of Edinburgh

From 14.01.2013 to 19.04.2013 – Tutor, Social and Political Enquiry (SSPS08004), U. of Edinburgh

Introduction to methods of scientific enquiry used in the Social Sciences.

From 14.01.2013 to 19.04.2013 – Tutor, Democracy in Comparative Perspective (PLIT08005), U.of Edi.

Introduction to and comparative analysis of the state of democracy viz. Russia, Germany and S. Africa

From 17.09.2012 to 23.11.2012 – Tutor, Introduction to Politics and IR (PLIT08004), U.of Edinburgh

Introduction to key concepts and theories from the fields of Politics and International Relations


From 24.09.2007 to 15.09.2008 – MSc in European Public Policy, University College London

Thesis Title: Insider/Outsider Strategies: Determinism

From 01.10.2003 to 03.07.2007 – MA (Hons) Politics and IR, University of Aberdeen

Thesis Title: Insider/Outsider Strategies: UK

The thesis uses the policy community type of policy network and the insider/outsider model of interest groups in order to describe the process of lobbying in the United Kingdom. 


PhD Thesis Description

Excerpt from draft introduction:

With the advent of modern democratic states political scientists have been preoccupied in researching the relationship between the state and civil society. Dominant questions in the field have been on establishing the format and dynamics between the state and the groups in civil society. While the debate until late 1980s was dominated by the rivalry of the macro theories of the state – pluralism and corporatism – researchers by the early 1990s conceded that theorising such dynamics had to be brought down to a meso-level. This meant that the concept of “the state” was deconstructed to stand for the bureaucracy, political parties in power and Parliament, while “civil society” was deconstructed to mean interest groups and the wider public through Media exposures. Finally, the term policy network came to be used as a generic reference to the many formats (types) the state-civil society relationship could assume.

As an example of some of the most debated types policy network is the policy community, established by Richardson and Jordan in the late 1970s (1979). That type of network sees interest groups establish privileged access to the policy-making process through a successful expertise-based consultation in the British civil service (Richardson and Jordan 1979). Another equally popular type of network, pertinent to the US is the subgovernment, where interest groups find themselves in a privileged position to debate the drafts of pieces of legislation by providing both executive and legislative actors expert information on a policy in question (Ripley and Franklin 1987: 8).

However, it has to be stressed that the party-interest group dynamic has not been explored in the literature of policy networks to the extent the policy community or subgovernments have been. One (and the only so far) model that represents that party-interest group relationship is called parentela. This model reflects the situation where an interest group receives a privileged access in the policy-making process by first establishing a symbiotic relationship with the party in power from where it penetrates the state administration through the practice of party-political appointments. La Palombara's seminal work on Italian interest groups, published in 1964, remains as the only large-scale research project that has firmly established a presence of the parentela to-date (1964: 306- 349).

Yet, there are reasons to question whether the parentela is still relevant, as the research into the model seems insignificant, and where it has been conducted, the results point out that the it is possibly a thing of the past. It seems that only thirty years after its establishment the model received a bit more prominence when it was discussed in the context of the debate on the classification of the various models of policy network (Atkinson and Coleman 1989: 54; Waarden 1992a: 45, 50; 1992b: 133). However, its silent, yet noticeable, omission by Jordan and Schubert (1992: 25) from their classification table seems to indicate that they were less enthusiastic as to the reliability of the parentela – a misgiving which they did not have towards La Palombara's other model clientela, which they included (La Palombara 1964: 252).Similar grounds of doubt as to whether the model is viable come from Yishai (1992) who conducted a study into the possible presence of a parentela in Israel, but found that in the time of the late 1980s, no such party-interest group arrangement existed. Greer's study, on the other hand, provides some more optimism, as he demonstrated the presence of a parentela in the farmer-state relationship in Northern Ireland, however, for the much more distant period of 1920s to early 1970s (1994). More recently, Guy Peters in his 2001 edition of “The Politics of Bureaucracy” discusses the parentela, but he does not debate any new evidence of its existence. Therefore, this all begs the question whether the parentela was a thing of the past and whether it is now (as of 2013) defunct. In other words, the concept needs to be revisited in order to ascertain whether this format of relationship exhibited by the parentela in mid 1960s is relevant today and whether it demonstrates variations in different states.

The proposed study therefore seeks to address these questions by examining the policy-making relationship between ruling political parties, interest groups and the state administration, in Bulgaria. Grounds for the hypothesis, that the parentela and its variations exist, come from three types of sources. Most prominent of all are the sociological studies conducted by Chalakov et al. (2008) and Raychev and Stoychev (2008), then the investigations of the journalists Lilov (2009) and Bakalov (2010), and the incessant, reports on the (ruling) party-business interaction in mainstream media since the early 1990s, which often employ the mysterious term circle.