Pressure Groups

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 148
  • Published: March 11, 2013
Read full document
Text Preview

According to Duncan Watts, a pressure group can be an organized group that seeks to influence government policy or protect or advance a particular cause or interest. They can also be described as ‘interest groups’, ‘lobby groups’ or ‘protest groups.’ Some people avoid using the term ‘pressure group’ as it can mistakenly be interpreted as meaning the groups use actual pressure to achieve their aims, which does not necessarily happen. The term pressure group has a very broad definition that does not clearly distinguish between the groups that fall under the term. For example, In Britain we see a pressure group can be a huge organisation like the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), which represents 150,000 businesses, and it can also be a single-issue locally based organisation like CLARA (Central Area Leamington Resident’s Association), which represents less than 300 households campaigning to preserve and improve the town of Leamington Spa. The definition also does not distinguish between the more extreme pressure groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, whose campaigns include the illegal activities such as planting bombs, and the pressure groups such as the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which has links to the Labour government and regular contact with cabinet ministers. (Richard Kimber, Jeremy Richardson, Pressure Groups in Britain) Pressure Groups are particularly different from Political Parties in a way that parties seek representation and power whereas groups in the main seek political influence. Parties often focus on the national interest whereas groups may be concerned with sectional issues/single issues. There are two types of pressure groups. The Sectional Interest Groups which represents common interests of a particular section of society membership is often closed/restricted sectional groups seek to represent the majority of their particular group of members of the group often stand to gain personally from the success of their campaigns. Also there is The Casual Pressure Groups which promotes a particular set of economic/politics objectives or ideas. Roy Baggott states that the aim of all pressure groups is to influence the people who actually have the power to make decisions. He also says that pressure groups do not look for the power of political office for themselves, but they do seek to influence the decisions made by those who do hold this political power. We often see pressure groups competing with rival pressure groups with the aim of gaining an advantage over them, but sometimes groups work together to achieve a common aim. Pressure groups are known to provide a means of popular participation in national politics between elections. They are sometimes able to gather sufficient support to force government to amend or even scrap legislation. Pressure groups also provide a means of participation in local politics between elections.  Pressure groups also act as a sense of specialist knowledge, and often have access to information that is highly valued by decision makers. Pressure groups can help make change by their methods that they use to try and influence decision making within the government. These methods can be legal or illegal. A pressure group will try to influence the public opinion so that if they have more support from the general public the government will listen to what the majority want. A pressure group could use many methods: lobbying, demonstrations, petitions, marches etc. and can do this with permission or without. If one method gains more publicity than the other then there is a chance that they will be more successful. Pressure groups can use a variety of different methods to influence law. Firstly, it can merely inform legislators of its member’s preferences. Second it may well give money or time to help with an election campaign. Third, its members may threaten, as a...
tracking img