Edexcel US politics pressure groups A2 fact sheet

Fact sheet for pressure groups

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  • Created on: 08-06-11 11:28
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Pressure groups fact sheet
Pluralism ­ a theory which suggests that political power in a society does not rest simply with the electorate, nor
with the governing elite, but is distributed amongst a number of groups representing widely different interests
within society
Elitism ­ a theory which suggests that political power in a society rests with a small group who gain power
through wealth, family status or intellectual superiority
A pressure group has the purpose of advancing their own interests or to promote a cause they believe in
Types of pressure groups
A pressure group is an organised interest group in which members hold similar beliefs and actively pursue to
influence government, pressure groups in the US aim to seek influence on all or some branches of government.
Pressure groups can be categorised into two broad categories:
Institutional pressure groups Membership pressure groups
Seek to represent organisations and groups Aim to represent individual Americans rather than
organisations and groups
Business/trade groups such as the US
Single issue groups ­ NRA MADD
chamber of Commerce which represents
Ideological groups ­ American Conservative Union,
thousands of different businesses across
ACLU (American Civil liberties Union)
the nation
Group rights groups ­ National Organisation for
Labour unions and agricultural groups -
Women, NACCP
American Farm Bureau Federation which
Public interest groups ­ Common Cause, Friends of the
represents agriculture
Professional groups ­ American Medical
Think tanks ­ important part of public interest groups
Association, American Bar Association
as they conduct research, write reports, write articles
Intergovernmental groups ­ National
for publication in leading broadsheet newspapers,
Governors' Conference
publish journals and books, organise conferences and
give evidence to congressional committees.
Functions of pressure groups
5 basic functions:
1. Representative function ­ US citizens can have their views represented their grievances articulated. The
Senator and Representative in a person's area does not have the capability of representing everyone's
views in all levels of government (state, federal and government) so pressure groups allow for all people in
society to have a group to represent them.
2. Aid political participation ­ increase political participation between elections and allows people to participate
in specific policy areas such as pro-guns, anti-abortion, pro-environmentalist etc

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Enhance public education ­ public can be educated on policy issues, effect of them being ignored or
implemented. Jeffrey Berry and Clyde Wilcox commented that:
With their advocacy efforts, publications and publicity campaigns, pressure groups can make people better
aware of both policy problems and proposed solutions
4. Agenda building ­ attempt to influence legislators and bureaucrats to promote interests of society.…read more

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For example if you are an avid bird watcher you may join the National Audubon Society, not so much to preserve
wetlands or other bird habitats, but more to join the local chapter.…read more

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Kissels all 10 of Kissels
responses were identical to AARP's position whilst Hayes position on all 10 questions were not. The
Republican incumbent lost to his Democrat challenger -45% to 55%
Top 5 pressure groups in competitive races during 2006 midterm elections. These groups achieve their
success through micro-targeting ­ matching consumer data material to lists of registered voters to reach
those households most likely to support your candidate.…read more

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When the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to ban saccharin due to possible links with cancer, the
Calorie Control Council which has close links with Coca Cola ran an advertisement campaign denouncing the
proposal Public policy journals whose circulation includes all members of Congress, senior staff at the White
House and executive departments and agencies are also used for the placement of advertisements.…read more

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State politicians decide which behaviours to criminalise ­ for example in Massachusetts they decided to
legalise gay marriage which resulted in the group known as Article 8 Alliance, a grassroots group founded to
fight marriage, wanted to remove the judges who allowed the ruling.…read more

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The impact of pressure groups on issues
The total federal lobbying revenue in 2007 amounted to just short of $3 billion. This sum includes only that
income which must be disclosed under federal law. On top of that clients spend at least hundreds of millions
of dollars more on grassroots lobbying, public relations, consulting, strategic advice and many other forms of
lobbying that make up the Washington lobbying sector.
Civil rights for African-Americans
The NAACP was the force behind the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v.…read more

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Club legal victory forces Bush administration to abandon plans for a logging project on
the Grand Canyon's north rim. Club holds first-ever Sierra Summit -- a national convention
and exposition.
o 2006 Club lawsuit succeeds in protecting Giant Sequoia National Monument from Bush
administration plan to allow commercial logging.
o 2007 Club encourages Congress to pass a Renewable Energy Standard that requires utilities
to produce 15% of their power from clean, renewable energy by 2020.…read more

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One lobbyist commented
`You have to start at the bottom. You have to start at the sub committee level.…read more

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Communication Decency Act which was unconstitutional, thereby overturning Congress'
attempt to ban pornography on the internet
In 2005 the ACLU brought the McCreary v. ACLU case to the court which ruled that the display of the 10
commandments in a Kentucky courthouse was unconstitutional
In 2007 Parents involved in Community schools brought PICS v.…read more


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