An association that may be formal or informal, whose purpose is to further the interests of a specific section of society or to promote a particular cause by influencing governement, the public or both.
Types of pressure groups
Interest (sectional) groups: A pressure group that represents a specific section of society such as a trade union or an employer's association. E.g. British Medical Association.
Promotional group: A pressure group that seeks to promote a cause rather than the interests of its own members. Also known as a cause group or an issue group. E.g. Friends of the Earth.
Insider groups: Pressure groups that operate inside the political system through contacts with ministers, MPs, peers and official committees. They are regularly consulted by government. E.G. Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Outsider groups: Unlike insider groups, outsiders have no special links with government but seek to influence decision makers by mobilising public opinion. E.G. Fathers 4 Justice.
Functions of a pressure group:
* They play a key part in the governing process.
* They may help individual MPs or peers who are trying to private members' legislation. E.g. Live Music Act -2012.
* They have a representative function.
* Help to educate and inform the public about politically important issues.
* They provide a less intensive but more relevant oppotunity for political participation.
* Help to make government accountable and responsive.
* Scrutinise legislative and policy proposals.
* 'tension release'