Are Pressure Groups good for democracy?

  • Created by: Becca_
  • Created on: 14-01-18 15:06

Are Pressure Groups good for democracy?


  • Represent minorities who are often ignored by the legislative- these views are often underrepresented in mainstream society and pressure groups allows their voices to be heard - Black Lives Matter, NAACP -Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act and Brown v Board              HOWEVER,
  • Pressure groups can provide legislators with vital information and expertise on the issue they are voting for/against whilst also holding politicians accountable if they become lazy -eg. 2017- Heritage foundation lobbies Trump to restate his committment to building the wall                                                                                                               HOWEVER, pressure groups are full of unelected members and so technically have no right to be telling elected representatives what to do
  • 1st amendment- exercises the right to free speech,  has been used to justify PGs, provides pressure groups with the legal basis to influence the government eg. Citizens United v FEC - non-profit organisations can promote a candidate- freedom of association                                     HOWEVER,


  • Elitism- The wealthiest pgs can buy influence - NRA is one of the largest and wealthiest groups in the US, significnatly increasing its influence, also lobbyists often bribe politicians for support                    HOWEVER, social media has allowed poorer pressure groups to gain more support without spending any money.
  • Slacktivism - support the cause but don't do anything to help              -eg. #metoo                                                                                                       HOWEVER, this still brings awareness to the cause and puts added pressure onto the legislators.
  • Iron triangles - unofficial network of power that can shape policy, pressure groups, executive departments and Congressional committees. Each serves to benefit each other on a common issue. Allows pressure groups to have an unfair advantage and allows unelected people to have influence on legislation, eg. AIPAC lobbying Trump to make Jerusalem the recognised capital of Israel    HOWEVER, iron triangles allow minorities to influence policy without spending money.


Pressure groups are undemocratic as only the wealthiest and largest pressure groups actually have any influence and slacktivism means that they don't get much work done. However in the eyes of the constitution they are democratic as they allow for minorities to be heard and for the 1st amendment to be exercised.


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