A – What are the main types of pressure groups?
There are 4 different types of pressure group. They can be insider or outsider groups, or sectional or promotional. They can therefore either be: Insider – promotional
Outsider – promotional
If a group is ‘insider’ they have special connections with those in power. They are regularly consulted on the development of policy and other issues that relate to their cause by ministers, decision-makers etc., and occasionally have representatives on decision making counils. They seek to influence the government directly through these connections. An example is ASH (action on smoking and health) who used insider government status to help them implement various pieces of legislation aimed at deterring/smoking. If a group is ‘outsider’ they have no connection with anyone in Government. This may be because government officials choose not to be associated with them, or because they choose to remain outsider so as to retain their independence. They seek to influence the decisions made by government by rallying as wide a level of public support (usually via demonstrations) as possible and then putting pressure on officials by displaying to them the level of public support to their cause. An example of a widely supported outsider group is father 4 justice. Sectional pressure groups support and are open to only a specific section of society – for example students. They usually have narrow goals, and wish only to benefit their chosen group. An example of a sectional group is the Royal collage of UK nurses. Promotional groups support a specific cause/issue. They usually have wider aims than sectional groups, and are open to anyone, as they believe that support for their cause will benefit the entire community. Examples of well-known promotional groups are the RSPCA or the NSPCC. B –what factors influence pressure group success?
The success of a pressure group can be defined in a number of different ways. For example, success for one group may be preventing unfair legislation, whereas for another it may be promoting fairer legislation. Other successes could include simply amending legislature, or simply getting an item on the political agenda. There are number of different factors of pressure groups that will affect the level of success that they achieve. They include: •
Resources. These could be financial or organisational, but either way they can provide a pressure group with the people and ability to mount a major campaign, and so are vital to the success of a group. An example of resources being used well is Countryside Alliance – they organised a series of successful demonstrations in London against Fox-Hunting. They succeeded, and in 2004 Fox-Hunting legislation was successfully watered down. •
Tactics. This is possibly the most important factors – the ability of a group to think of a successful formula (combination of tactic, such as demonstrations, petitions etc.) to influence government opinion and rally public support for their cause can be seen as far more important – a group with few resources that can successfully rally massive public support will be far more successful than one with huge resources that is poorly organised. Proof of the effectiveness of good tactics is the Save Britain’s Forests campaign – this successfully used a massive online e-petition, a series of public demonstrations, celebrity campaigners, an even MP involvement. As a result, the Government was forced to abandon plans to sell off large areas of publically owned Forest in 2009. •
Insider status. If a group has special connections with the government, they are likely to find it far easier to achieve their goals. Goals can still be successfully achieved without it, for example the well-known outsider group Plane Stupid has achieved many massive successes through their tactics, but it can be useful. For example, ASH (action on smoking and health) used their insider...
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