Pressure Groups




  • Pressure group activities can vary from things such as demonstrations, protests, petitions, leafletig and campaigning to more illegal activitires in extreme pressure groups such as ALF, like breaking and entering to set animals free, damaging and vandalising and other extreme things to get their points across.
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Functions of Pressure Groups

  • Representation.
    Pressure groups provide a mouthpiece for groups and interests that are not adequately represented through the electoral process or by political parties.
  • Political participation.
    Pressure groups have become an increasingly important agent of political participation. Of UK citizens, 40-50% belong to at least one voluntary association and a large majority 20% belong to two or more.
  • Education.
    Much of what the public knows about politics it finds out through pressure groups of one kind or another.
  • Policy formulation.
    Although pressure groups, by definition, are not policy-makers, this doesn't prevent mny pressure groups from participating in the policy-making process.
  • Policy implementation.
    The role of some pressure groups extends beyond trying to shape the content of pubic policy to playing a roel in putting policy into practice. 
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Factors affecting pressure group success/power.

  • Wealth.
    The most powerful pressure groups in the country are the ones that government listen to because they have finanical and economic power.
  • Size.
    Pluralist theorists believe that pressure group power is democratically based and that the larger the group the more successful it is. (Though, evidence says this isn't always true - CBI more powerful than the TUC, despite TUC having more members).
  • Organiztion and leadership.
    Organization helps groups to mobilize their resources effectively and to take concerted action.
  • The governments views.
    Groups are far more liekly to succeed when the government is broadly sympathetic towards their aims or goals. When a groups goals clash with those of the governments, it's consigned to the status of an ideological outsider group. And while these groups can bring about long term change, they have very little chance of changing government policies in the short term.
  • Public support.
    Pressure groups that enjoy high levels of public support have greater political influence than ones with only minority suppot. Governments calculate how much electoral damage may be caused by not acceding to a groups demands.
  • Effectiveness of opposition.
    Pressure groups may succeed or fail, less because of their own resources and more because of the strength or weakness of the forces that oppose them. 
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Strengths of pressure groups

  • Widen power.
    Pressure gruops strengthen representation by articulating interests and advancing views thatt end to be ignored by political parties.
  • Promote education.
    Groups stimualte debate and discussion, helping to create a better-informed more educated electorate.
  • Extend participation.
    Groups broaden the scope of poltical participation.They do this both by providing an alternative to conventioal party and electoral politics and by offering opporutnities for grass-roots activism.
  • Limit government.
    Groups check government power and, in the process, defend rights and freedom. They dot his because they are autonomous and indpendent from government.
  • Maintain stability.
    In providing a channel of communication between citizens and government, groups help to uphold political stability by ensuring that government responds to popular demands and concerns. 
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