Politics - Types of Pressure Groups

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  • Pressure Groups
    • Differ from political parties because they don't enter own candidates into elections and don't seek to exercise power themselves - they seek to influence government
    • Pressure groups can be small-scale and be in place for one specific reason such as protesting against a new road. Some can be large-scale and be national organisations
    • The three main types:
      • Sectional (or interest) groups
        • Seek to promote interests of an occupation or group in society. e.g. TUs represent members in negotiations with employers over wages and working conditions
        • Membership usually restricted to specific requirements such as qualifications in specific field
      • Cause (or promotional) groups
        • Focused on achieving particular goal or drawing attention to an issue or group of related issues.  A special category of cause group is one that promotes the interests of a group in society, usually one that can't stand up for itself
        • Membership usually open to anyone interested. e.g. Greenpeace in place for promoting environmental concerns.
      • Social movements
        • Similar to cause groups but are more loosely structured. Some participants may also belong to more traditional pressure groups, whereas some are just involved for a specific protest.
        • Usually politically radical and have single objective. e.g. Camps for Climate Action created for short periods in 2006-2010 to protest against expansion of Heathrow Airport, coal-fired power stations in Yorkshire and other environmental targets
    • Relations to government
      • Insider groups
        • Rely on contacts with ministers and civil servants to achieve aims. e.g. National Union of Farmers has close links with relevant government department (Defra)
        • Generally have views in line with government so they have more leverage
        • Also can be divided into low- and high-profile groups
          • Low-profile generally rely on behind the scenes contacts and don't seek publicity e.g.Howard League for Penal Reform
          • High-profile supplement lobbying with use of media to promote their cause e.g. Confederation of British Industry
      • Outsider groups
        • Not consulted by government. Aims might be far outside political mainstream meaning government is unlikely to entertain dialogue with them.
        • Some are outsider groups by choice because they want to preserve their independence and reputation for  ideological purity
      • Some interchange between being insider and outsider groups depending on government in power


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