Pressure group theory

An outline grasp of pressure group theory can be very useful for high AO2 marks. The theory will be very important for A2 work. There are four main 'theories'.

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Pluralist theory

  • are benficial
  • involve ordinary citizens
  • bring skills an expertise to bear on an issue
  • represent minorities
  • prevent one group from dominating a debate
  • bring diverse influences into decision making
  • disperse power away from centres
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Corporatist theory

  • government shares power with groups in return for those groups support for government policy
  • government, management and unions decide on economic and social policy
  • management and unions play a role in implementing policy, such as controlling prices
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The New Right theory

  • pressure groups bring few benfits and possibly do much harm
  • pressue groups are essentially selfish and harm the national 'good'
  • the current situation leads to the domination of producer interests, such as the supermarkets and bankers
  • the current situation is leading to the decline of the UK, as narrow and self - interested groups are dominating the decision - making process
  • the 'closed - shop' policy of unions and the selfish interests of groups such as lawyers are not good for the country.
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The Marxist Theory

  • sees pressure groups as dangerous and undemocratic
  • feels that pressure groups are dominated by producer groups and capitalists
  • argues that too little power goes to the people

Note that the issue of pressure politics featured in the 2010 general election campaign, as parties suggested a register for all pressure groups to bring more transparency into pressure politics. There had been a serious concern that too many former politicians, civil servants and military personnel were leaving their jobs and going to work for lobbying firms, making 'unfair' use of their former colleagues and contacts. A television programme caught several leading politicians offering their contacts and insider knowledge to a lobbying firm in return for cash in 2010.

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