Unit 1: Pressure groups

What are the roles of Pressure Groups?
(1) Participation, (2) Representation, (3) Education
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Define Pressure Groups
Pressure groups are groups of like-minded individuals who campaign for their collective interest and/or in pursuit of a common cause.
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What is the difference between political parties and pressure groups?
Pressure groups are significantly more numerous than political parties because they have the tendency to fragment opinion, whereas political parties tend to aggregate and accommodate a wider range of views in an effort to be elected.
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What are the two types of classification by aims of pressure groups?
Sectional groups and Cause groups
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What are Sectional groups?
These groups seek to protect the interests of a particular section of society, sometimes refered to as 'interest' or 'protectionist' groups. Examples are NASUWT who represent teachers.This makes them exclusive.
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What are Cause groups?
These groups seek to promote a particular cause. They are sometimes refered to as 'promotional' groups. They seek a broader membership and do not necessarily stand to benefit directly from their campaigns, making them more inclusive.
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What are the three sub-catagories of Cause Groups?
(1) Attitude cause groups: aim to change peoples' attitudes on particular issue e.g. the environment (2) Political Cause Group: aim to achieve certain political goals e.g. Charter 88 (3) Sectional cause groups:aim to protect section of society, NSPCC
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What are the problems of classifying groups by aims?
Ignore that many groups campaign for a cause as well as representing the interests of their members e.g. teaching unions represent the education policy as well as members, the divisions between groups are not very clear cut either
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What are the two types of classification by status of pressure groups?
Insider groups and Outsider groups
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What are Insider Groups?
These groups have better access to government.
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What are the sub-catagories of the insider groups?
(1) Core insiders, (2) Specialist Insiders, (3) Peripheral Insiders
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What are Core Insiders?
Have a strong two-way relationship with policy makers on a broad range of issues e.g. BMA and NFU
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What are Specialist Insiders?
Granted insider status within a more narrow area of expertise e.g. WWF
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What are Peripheral Insiders?
Have insider status but are only rarely needed by government due to the nature of their interst/cause e.g. The Dogs Trust
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What are the problems with classifying by status?
Ignores the fact that many groups can operate to some extent as both insiders and outsiders and that groups move from being an insider to outsider and vice versa quickly e.g. Charter 88 was an outsider before 1997 general election
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What are the sub-catorgories of the Outsider Groups?
(1) Potential Insiders, (2) Outsiders by necessity, (3) Ideological outsiders
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What are Potential Insiders?
Those who are outside due to the nature of their cause, or their experience, e.g. Chatter 88 before 1997
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What are Outsiders by Necessity?
Those who are unlikely to achieve high status and must work outsider e.g. CND or Fathers4Justice
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What are Ideological Outsiders?
These include groups such as Amnesty International which prefer to remain outsider the system
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What are the problems with classifying by status?
It ignores the fact that many groups can operate to some extent as both insiders and outsiders, and that groups can move from outsider to insider and vice versa quickly
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What are the factors that affect a Pressure Groups success?
(1) Group aims, (2) Group status, (3) Group Methods, (4) Group Specialism and expertise, (5) Group Resources
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Explain what is meant by 'Group Aims'.
The groups (1) Achievablity: high e.g. renovating a children's play area, or low e.g. securing a global ban on nuclear power, (2) Public receptivity: high e.g. saving an endangered species, or low e.g. improving conditions in prisons.
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Give examples of groups with specialism and expertise.
RSPCA, RoSPA, RSPB, Electoral Reform Society
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Explain what is meant by 'Group Resources'.
(1) Human: Size of membership (large membership can provide finance, bigger groups organise more effective mass campaigns), skills of members (PR skills, practical skills, legal expertise), (2) Material: e.g. group finance, equipment, office space
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What are the problems of measuring a groups influence?
Highly successful and priviledged insider groups are unlikely to publicise the extent of their influence, high profile protests and stunts might appear as impressive but don't change policies e.g.fuel protests in 2000 govt spoke to RHA not protesters
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Why do pressure groups turn to the EU?
When they are faced with a national government that is unsympathetic to their cause, or their sectional interest or cause is supranational
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What are the two reasons why environmental pressure groups focus their attention on Europe?
(1) Environmental issues do not respect national boundaries so it is best to deal with the issues at a European or international level, (2) The EU is already commited to environmental protection and more sympathetic to aims and objectives of groups
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Name a group that has made progress by working through the EU on environmental issues.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) , as they created a policy of awarding blue flags for clean beaches as the UK's beaches were once seen as unfit for bathing in.
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What is the European Communities Act (1972)?
It is under which that European law takes precedence over national laws where the two are in conflict.
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How do Council Ministers vote?
Since 1986 decisions made by the Council of Ministers have increasingly been taken under a system of qualified majority voting (QMV) rather than unanimity.
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What are the advantages of having QMV?
A UK-based group can campaign for a measure affecting the UK in the knowledge that the UK government alone cannot prevent it from happening.
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What are Eurogroups?
Like-minded pressure groups aggregate their efforts that possess sufficient resources and represent a large enough 'constituency ' for their views to be heard rather then being lost when they are independent in their activities.
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What are pressure group methods?
(1) Access points, (2) Traditional methods, (3) Directly influencing the legislative process, (4) Embarking on legal action, (5) Working through a political party, (6) Direct Action, (7) Managing media
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What are access points?
The points within the political system at which pressure groups and other interested parties can exert pressure on those who hold political power.
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What are traditional methods?
Traditional methods include letter-writing campaigns, petitions, marches, and conventional lobbying, e.g. The anti-abortion organisation Life made petition of more than 2 million names in the mid-1980s.
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What is traditional lobbying?
Lobbying can be in forms such as individuals or members of pressure groups writing to a government minister or visit the Palace of Westminister to lobby in person to those who have influence over the group's area of interest/expertise
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What is modern lobbying?
Pressure groups work with a professional lobby firm, for a fee organisations will direct professional lobbyists to use their contacts on behaf of the pressure group
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What is it when pressure groups influence the legislative process directly?
Core insiders are able to comunicate directly with government and have the ability to influence formation of policy at an early stage through consultation with ministers, civil servants and government appointed bodies working on legislative proposals
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What happens when pressure groups embark on legal action?
Legal action (refered to as litigation) can be effective yet expensive, can work in two ways: (1) when court finds that government has acted ultra vires, (2) where action raises public awareness of an issue e.g. Pro-life Alliance against HFE Act 1990
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What happens when a pressure group works with a political party (PP)?
Pressure groups create links with political parties with a view to influencing the formation of policy, this is harder to do when the PP is in govt, more demands, gain a foothold when the party is in opposition e.g. Charter 88 and Labour pre-1997
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What are pressure groups direct action (DA) campaigns?
Increasing in popularity, visible and direct protests, involving civil disobedience, illegalty, violence, politicians take notice and can broaden public support, undermines representative democracy
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Give examples of Direct Action used by pressure groups.
DA has increased since the 1990s, anti-roads protests, campaigns against live animal exports, fox hunting, vivisection, airport expansion, fuel protests and Fathers4Justice seen direct effect on policy and public opinion.
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How does a pressure group manage the media?
They can use unpaid media, taking out whole page ads in national press, using direct-mail, or TV ads e.g. the NSPCC did TV ads for their full-stop campaign, PGs are using internet, social networking and smartphones, little financial cost and speed
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What are pressure groups said to play in terms of democracy?
PGs are said to play a vital role in a liberal democracy as they provide avenues for representation and participation.
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What is internal democracy and legitimacy?
Wyn Grant says 'We need [to be able] to ask questions about whom they represent and how their policies are arrived at'. Though some groups are clearly engaged in intense internal debate e.g. RSPCA over fox hunting
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How are pressure group officers chosen?
Pressure group officers are appointed rather than elected by the group's members on an OMOV basis, this means that those leading pressure groups are often not directly accountable to members.
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How do pressure groups make decisions?
Key decisions are not taken by members but by a central committee or board which is itself unelected, Neil McNaughton suggest that groups e.g. BMA and AA, are poor at consulting members over policy and direction, reflects elitism not pluralism
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How does Greenpeace make decisions?
Wyn Grant (2002) says Greenpeace is hierarchical organisation that allows little democratic control over the direction of its campaigns
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What are the benefits of having pressure groups in terms of democracy?
(1) PGs occur naturally, (2) PGs allow people to organise and articulate their views between elections, (3) PGs provide an additional avenue for participation, (4) PGs allow a wide range of opinions to be represented, (5) PGs educate the public
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What are the drawbacks of having pressure groups in terms of democracy?
(1) Quality of participation is low, (2) Lack internal democracy and legitimacy, (3) Some PGs are fronts for wealthy and influencial business interests, (4) PGs don't compete on equal financial footing, (5) PGs could be misleading government
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Define Pressure Groups


Pressure groups are groups of like-minded individuals who campaign for their collective interest and/or in pursuit of a common cause.

Card 3


What is the difference between political parties and pressure groups?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What are the two types of classification by aims of pressure groups?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What are Sectional groups?


Preview of the front of card 5
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