pressure groups

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types of pressure groups

sectional groups

  • look after their own section of society
  • often professional associations- BMA
  • trade unions- RMT
  • members will usually have the same or similar occupation and shared interests
  • tend to have closed membership
  • act in the best interests of their members
  • trying to pressure those in power to get the best deal for their members
  • may campaign on a number of issues, but interest is with the benefit of a single section of society

causal groups

  • campaign for a particular cause or issue
  • campaigning on behalf of other people
  • often come from a wide variety of backgrounds 
  • relatively easy to join, membership is open to everyone
  • often aim to improve society in some way
  • may take the form of a charity- RSPCA, Oxfam
  • will often perform a wide variety of activities- fundraising, raising awareness, research, education, putting pressure on those in power

insider and outsider status

  • insider- special relationship with the government, given access to officials and decision makers
  • outsider- do not have such close links with the government, may resort to activities that generate attention from the press in order to publicise their cause and put pressure on the government to take the action they desire


  • lobby- groups meet with politicians and civil servants in order to argue their case and try to persuade them to adopt their ideas
  • research and publish reports- research can provide evidence to support a group's argument and can be used to inform politicians and raise public awareness of the cause
  • give evidence at hearings- public consultations, legislative committees and select committees will hold hearings to help them determine a decision or action; by giving evidence and speaking on behalf of their members, groups can exert influence on those in a position of power
  • organise publicity campaigns- raise public awareness of their cause; might be to raise awareness of a particular issue and encourage the public to take action themselves; might be to encourage the public to put pressure on elected officials
  • organise public demonstrations- marches and rallies; demonstrate to those in power the strength and scale of support for their cause; likely to gain publicity and help spread awareness of the cause
  • publicity stunts- small groups without the resources to pay for a media campaign may use publicity stunts to attract media attention and gain publicity and generate awareness of their cause
  • civil disobedience- illegal methods, disrupting public events , staging a sit in to cause disruption and bring attention to their cause; usually happens because they feel they have no other option
  • go on strike- put pressure on those in power to try to reach an agreement with them; can be damaging and unpopular for a government or organisation; may force them to accept the group's demands
  • use a celebrity spokesperson- raise the profile of the group, gain media attention and attract more support by sharing in the popularity of the celebrity
  • bring test cases to court- some groups provide legal expertise and bring a case or…


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