Essay plan: ‘The political activities of pressure groups help rather than hinder the operation of pluralist democracy in the USA.’ Discuss

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‘The political activities of pressure groups help rather than hinder the operation of pluralist democracy in the USA.’ Discuss


·         Pluralist democracy is a term that describes when political power does not rest simply with the electorate or with the governing elite but it is distributed amongst a number of groups representing widely differing interests within society. Theoretically, pressure groups should help this concept because power is dispersed amongst these other group with millions of members of the public who are all able to have influence in government policy, and this is argued by Dahl.

·         However amongst pressure groups, there is arguably elitism, exemplified by revolving door theory and corruption and so their enhancement of democracy is limited


Para 1:

·         In this theoretical view, best expressed by Dahl and Truman, pressure groups are essential to a fully functioning representative democracy with a variety of groups attempting to influence a diversity of power centres.

·         They represent a diversity of groups and interests which governments taking into account when making policy decisions. Their function, theoretically, is to influence policy and not to control it.

·         Just the sheer number of pressure groups that are available to join for any group or issue is an indication of their enhancement of democracy.

·         For example, the most powerful pressure group in the US, the NRA, has been extremely influential in stopping which is sees as encroachment on citizens’ rights to own and use legal firearms and played a significant role in the Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008.


Para 2:

·         Another reason why pressure groups help the operation of pluralist democracy is because the political system is open to all to participate and compete it. Political participation is encouraged and seen as legitimate.

·         In most states, national elections occur only every two years (and most other elections are put on the same day in order to generate higher turnout) and thus, pressure groups provide an essential political activity during political terms in which the public can be engaged with. 

·         In America, there is 24 hours news coverage and again,


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