politics pressure groups

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what are pressure groups

a pressure group is an organised group of people that aims to influence the policies or actions of government.

  • they seek to exert influence from outside the government and influence the policy makers
  • they typically have a narrow issue focus, ususally only one issue
  • their members are united by either a shared belief in a particular cause or a common set of interests.

examples of pressure groups include; greenpeace, the countryside alliance, the stop the war coalition and fathers4justice. these groups tend to have a high profile due to the media.but pressure groups also include churches, charities, businesses and trade unions and professional associates and think tanks (people who campaign for acceptance amongst opinion formers and policy-makers).they are apart of civil society in the sence that they are not elected.

pressure groups and political parties

they are similar in the sence that they; both carry out representation,facilitate political participation and contribute to the policy process.they may become confused for a number of reasons, such as;

  • many small political parties resemble pressure groups in that they have a narrow issue focus eg BNP and the green party
  • some pressure groups use elections as a tactical weapon by grabbing the media's attention with no intention of winning the election. eg legalise cannabis alliance contested 21 constituencies in 2005. now deregistered as a party
  • parties and pressure groups may form part of larger social movements. social movements differ in that they lack organisation and card-carrying members but contain both pressure groups and parties and people who share a sense of commitment towards a cause.eg the green movement includes the green party and a wide range of environmental pressure groups

pressure groups;seek to exert influence, narrow issue focus,shared interests/common causes

political parties;seek to win power,broad issue focus, shared preferences

types of pressure groups

  • sectional and promotional groups
  • insider and outsider groups

interest and cause groups (sectional groups and promortional groups)

sectional/ interest/ protective/ functional groups ; defend interests, closed membership, material concerns, benefit members only

interest groups have the following features;

  • they are concerned to protect or advance the interests of their members
  • membership is limited to people in a particular occupation, career or economic position
  • members are motivated by material self-interest

eg british medical association, the law society, the national union of teachers or peak groups (coordinate different pressure groups within the same area); the confederation of british industry and the trades union congress.

promotional/ cause/ attitude/ issue groups; promote causes, open membership, moral concerns, benefit others

promortional groups have the following features;

  • they seek to advance particular ideals or principles
  • membership is open to all
  • members are motivated by moral or altruistic concerns (the betterment of others)

eg friends of the earth, amnesty international, shelter, the royal society of the protection of birds and the electoral reform society.when involved in international policies, these groups are often called non-government organisations, or NGOs eg the red cross, green peace and the catholic church.

however the differences between these two groups…


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