Pressure Groups Revision Sheets
What are Pressure Groups?
· Pressure Groups are group of likeminded individuals who come together on the basis of shared interests or a commonly held cause in order to put pressure on policy makers at Westminster and beyond.
· They are usually more numerous than political parties because where the parties tend to have a wide range of views accommodated, pressure groups have a tendency to fragment opinions by focusing on controversial issues.
· Recent years have seen the emergence of looser social movements and more focused single-issue groups, replacing the larger, more traditional groups. Many commentators see the rise of such groups as a fundamental change in the nature of political participation in the UK- as the emergence of a so-called new pressure group politics.
What are the Roles of Pressure Groups?
They provide an avenue for participation for citizens between elections. Although the trustee model suggests that MPs should be free to use their own judgement once elected, democracy demands that the channels of communication remain open between elections, and pressure groups play a key role in that.
By engaging citizens in a form of structured participation, pressure groups also serve to moderate the views of those who otherwise may adopt more extreme strategies in pursuit of their goals.
They enhance representation by aggregating and articulating the common interests or concerns of a given group of individuals. Whilst contemporary political parties are criticised for being mere ‘catch-all’, election-winning machines, pressure groups are able to represent the specific interests or concerns of citizens.
They act as a source of specialist knowledge helping the government to weigh up the merits and demerits of proposed policies. This benefits the broader public by helping the government to avoid costly mistakes and unnecessary conflict.
They also serve to educate the broader public, making it more plausible that the government will be held to account.
What are Pressure Group Typologies?
· Pressure Groups can be classified according to two broad typologies. The first, the sectional group-cause group typology, classifying pressure groups according to core aims. The second, the insider-outsider typology, classifying pressure groups according to their status in relation to the government.
What is the sectional group-cause group typology?
Are pressure groups that aim to advance and serve the shared interests of their members as opposed to campaigning for a broader cause, they are normally ‘exclusive’ with individuals required to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for group membership such as serving in a particular profession.
Are pressure groups that seek to promote approaches, issues or ideas that are not of direct benefit to group members rather benefiting others or in the best interest of society as a whole, they seek a wider ‘inclusive’ membership and therefore rarely have any barriers in place. There are 3 sub categories to Cause Groups; Attitude Cause Groups, Political Cause Group and Sectional Cause Group.