Pressure groups and other influences

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  • Created on: 25-11-19 20:18

Pressure groups and other influences


Pressure groups aren’t like other political parties, they don’t enter their own candidates at elections and don’t seek to exert power themselves. They seek to influence the government to adopt their ideas or not to pursue a policy. 

 Pressure groups: How the exert influence:

There are three main types of pressure groups: 

            Sectional Groups (or interest groups):

Seek to promote interests of a group of people within society. E.G. Trade Unions - represent employers and discuss issues such as wages and working conditions. Membership of this group is usually restricted to people who meet the requirements, professional qualification. E.G. Law society – open to solicitors. 

Cause Groups (or promotional groups): 

Focused on achieving a certain goal or getting attention on a related issue. Membership is usually open to anyone with an interest in this group. E.G. Greenpeace. Special group is one that promotes interests of a group in society – one that can’t stand up for itself. Usually Members don’t belong in a social group which they campaign. 

Social Movements

Similar to cause groups but me loosely structured. Some members may belong to more traditional groups, others just want to take part in a specific part of a protest. They usually want to achieve one single objective. E.G. camps for the climate action – protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport, coal-fired power stations etc.

Another wat to categorise pressure groups, looking at their relationship with the government: 

            Insider Groups:

Rely on. Contact with ministers + civil servants to achieve their aims. The National Union of Farmers have close links with the relevant government department. Insider groups objectives are usually in line with the government wants so they have more leverage. They are usually divided into high- and low-profile groups.

Outsider groups:

Not consulted by the government. Their objectives may be very far outside the political mainstream, so they have very little leeway with the government. Outsider groups may also preserve the independence and reputation by keeping the government at a distance. 

Some groups move from either status according to political status. 

How pressure groups methods vary:

Methods are largely determined by the resources available and its status as an insider or outsider group. Insider groups negotiate quietly behind the scenes. Using connections, draft legislations. Outsider groups use less discreet methods to draw attention to the concerns. Email campaigns, staging demonstrations etc. 

Some groups may use a combination of insider and outsider methods. Depending of the nature of the issue and the degree that the government is willing to respond. 

Why do some pressure groups have more influence than others?

Success for some groups may consist of winning publicity for an issue rather than changing government policy. It’s very hard to gauge the success of insider groups, they don’t publicise their achievements, so they don’t offend the gov contacts. 

The success of groups can vary on the climate of public opinion and the willingness of the government to make concessions. As well…


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