Edexcel: Government & Politics, Unit 1, Pressure Groups

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Pressure Groups

 

Definition: “an organisation which seeks to influence a comparatively small range of public policies and which is not attributed to a recognized political party.”

 

 

Function of Pressure Groups

 

Governing process: they play a key role in the governing process. They are involved in all stages of the policy making process, ensuring the interests of the public are taken into account.

 

Representative function: they either represent;

<strong>     Sections of the public

</strong>     The interests of the general public. (They claim)

 

Educative function: they help to educate/inform the public and the government about politically important issues.

 

Opportunities: they provide more opportunity for political participation than parties do.

 

Scrutinize: they often scrutinize legislation, giving suggestions on how it may be improved.

 

Tension release: pressure groups provide an outlet for people’s emotions, particularly if they are strong ones about certain issues (for example, the Iraq war, dog hunting etc.) This is a highly important function, as it helps maintain a peaceful society, as people can channel their emotions in a non-violent way.

 

Types of Pressure Group

 

Insider: a pressure group that has strong links with decision makers and are regularly consulted on areas of policy. They are so called because they work inside the political system through MPs, peers and committees. They may have this access because they are deemed to be relatively moderate by the government, who want to be seen as ‘listeners of the people’ and down to earth.

Example: (The Confederation of BritishIndustry (CBI.) This group is regularly consulted by the government and produce reports on how businesses are operating, performing and their attitudes towards new issues such as business taxation.)

 

Outsider: a pressure group that doesn’t participate in the consultation process. This is either by choice or because they are excluded by the government, because they are deemed to be too radical or because the gov’t doesn’t believe they can work with them. Because of this, they can only use indirect methods when attempting to influence policy, working outside the political system, mobilizing public opinion & support to get their point across.

 

Example: (Occupy- A group set up to try and balance the differences between executive pay and worker pay.)

 

Sectional: a pressure group which acts on behalf of a particular section of society (e.g. religious groups.) Usually self-interested.

 

Example: National Union of Teachers (NUT) represents teachers, campaigning for better pay, pensions and working conditions.

 

Promotional: a pressure group focused on promoting a particular issue. They aren’t self-interested as they promote causes that they believe are for the good of the public.

 

Example: Electoral Reform Society campaign for electoral reform to ‘build a better democracy.’ [1]  

 

Campaign Methods Used by Pressure Groups

 

Lobbying

This is the practice of trying to influence the opinion of MPs, Lords, and Committees.

 

Methods of lobbying include:

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