A pressure group is an organised interest group in which members hold similar beliefs and actively pursue ways to influence government. Unlike political parties, which seek to win control of government, pressure groups are principally interested in influencing those who determine policy. Pressure groups in the US operate at all levels of government be it federal, state and local and seek to bring their influence to bear on all three branches of government.
There are wide ranges of views amongst the pressure groups that operate in the US. Many tend to hold firm beliefs that they are somewhat effective in disabling political dominance of all three branches of government. Others however, see them as adding to the splintering and atomisation of US society, employing different techniques that make them largely undemocratic.
Nevertheless, pressure groups, whether in the US or the UK are regarded as having important implications for a modern democracy. The arguments in favour of them tend to follow the functions they may usefully perform. Though them, citizens can participate in the political process between elections. Groups such as the National Organisation for Women (NOW) or the National Rifle Associations, despite holding single issue, still provide opportunities for ordinary people to participate in decision making. Without such group's existence, democracy would be out the window as far as some are concerned.
They are also an important link between the public and the politician, through pressure groups, citizens can have their views represented and their grievances articulated. As well as offering opportunities for minority views to be represented that would normally be ignored by the major political parties. Interest groups supporting those without representation have certainly had their successes; pressure groups can have a major impact on issues. The NAACP used its money and professional expertise to bring cases to court for...