Pressure Groups January 2012

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  • Pressure Groups January 2012
    • a) How do pressure groups promote functional representation
      • Functional representation is where pressure groups supplement or add to the democratic process in society
      • It is alleged that in a representative democracy where political parties aggregate their policies and water down their creeds it is beneficial that pressure groups can speak on behalf of the specific and the unique
      • It is therefore operatively beneficial that pressure groups break out, the contraints of representative demoncracy and function to articulate the needs of the minority
      • Building on the above they widen the democratic framework and air speacialised needs
      • These minorities may be linked to economic interests, hence business pressure groups speak on behlaf of employers and owners and trade unions on behalf of workers, again this is beneficial for functional representation
      • Functional representation can be promoted by representation of demographic groups and also minority opinion
    • b) Explain three factors which may restrict the influence of a pressure group
      • Government power which is hostile to the pressure groups aims e.g. the current governments stance to student groups upon the raising of student fees
      • Hostile public opinion can restrict pressure group power, Muslim groups who sought to pretest at the Afgan War at Wotton Basset met with widespread public hostility
      • A lack of finance may restirct power or curtail the pressure groups cause, in recent years some environmental groups have seen their income fall as the recession has caused their funds to decrease
      • A lack of experts and efficient leaders may stall the power base of a pressure group
      • A lack of recruited members can stall a pressure groups as it fails to get recuits to volunteer and publicise its message to a wider audience
      • A restictive factor may be the strength of opposition groups for example the Countryside Alliance versus the League Against Cruel Sports
    • c) Are pressure groups becoming more powerful or less powerful
      • More powerful
        • Turnout in all types of election continue to fall as citizens turn away from elections as  ameans of participation instead they turn to pressure groups to articulate their demands
        • Associated with this is the fall in popularity of politicals parties whose membership has plummeted: the public are instead joining pressure groups and this numerical increase adds weight and salience to their causes
        • As the complexities of modern society increases governments and individuals turn to pressure groups for expertise and answers
        • Improved communicattions have allowed pressure groups to advertise their cause via aveneue such as the internet this raises the profile of certain groups and their message
      • Less powerful
        • Turnout is not neccessarily an indicator of dissatisfaction with the public more a sign of contentment
        • Political parties still marshal the vote at election pressure groups infuence but do ot control the vital arena
        • Governments hold power and are the ultimate decision maker, they may listen to pressure groups but in the end governments decide
        • Hence we all too often see pressure groups fail in their attempts to change or block governments, the Hunting Ban, the War in Iraq, the introduction (And the rise) in Student Tuitition fees and the continuance of animal experimentation


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