AS and A Level: Pressure Groups

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Five things you should know when studying pressure groups

  1. 1 What is a pressure group?

    A pressure group is an organised group in which members hold similar beliefs or interests and actively pursue ways to influence government.
  2. 2 Why are pressure groups different to political parties?

    Unlike political parties, which seek to win control of the government, pressure groups are interested in influencing those who determine policy.
  3. 3 What is lobbying?

    Lobbying is a method used by pressure groups to attempt to influence members of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of government. The term today often refers to the work of private companies known as lobbyists who are employed by organisations to represent their views by arranging meetings, organising protests or providing briefing material. Lobbyists have significant power in the USA and are increasing their power in the UK.
  4. 4 Why has the number of pressure groups increased?

    The number of pressure groups has grown as governments have expanded, populations have increased, diversity has become the norm, technology has advanced, and concern for new issues has developed.
  5. 5 Pressure group activity takes place on a daily basis, from union action to media stunts, and examples are an essential part of any essay on the subject. Real life examples must be used to develop ideas and highlight how things work in real life.

    NOTE: Be careful not to just list examples.

Facts you need to know when answering UK pressure group questions

  1. 1 Categorising pressure groups in the UK

    Pressure groups are categorised into sectional (interest) groups representing the interests of a section of society or promotional (cause) groups interested in promoting a specific cause. They are also categorised by their relationship with government. Insider groups work closely with the government whereas outsider groups tend to have limited contact.
  2. 2 Pressure groups and democracy

    Some argue that pressure groups enhance democracy in the UK but others question this idea. The pluralist and elitist theories on how pressure groups impact democracy in the UK are important. Do pressure groups really aid participation, representation and education in the UK?
  3. 3 Factors that influence success/power

    Different factors (variables) such as the status, wealth, leadership or aim of a group can impact the success/power that it has. It is important to understand how these factors affect pressure groups.
  4. 4 Access Points

    An access point is a formal part of a government structure that is accessible to group influence. The most obvious access points in the UK are the Executive (Government/Government Departments), the Legislature (Parliament) and the public/media. Other access points include the courts, local government, devolved assemblies and the European Commission and Parliament.
  5. 5 Methods

    Pressure groups often use a variety of methods such as strikes, blockades, media campaigns, stunts, letter writing, petitions and lobbying to try to influence people and gain attention.

80 AS and A Level Pressure Groups essays

  • Marked by Teachers essays 2
  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  5. 8
  1. Marked by a teacher

    Why are some pressure groups more successful than others?

    4 star(s)

    A good essay with some excellent use of examples in places. The answer does address the question although it is lacking in places in evaluation and analysis of the…

    • Essay length: 1225 words
    • Submitted: 25/03/2012
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Jessica Jung 04/04/2012
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Do pressure groups enhance or threaten democracy?

    3 star(s)

    Overall this essay has covered some of the main arguments for and against the influence of pressure groups on democracy in the UK. However, there is not enough…

    • Essay length: 798 words
    • Submitted: 11/05/2010
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Jessica Jung 04/04/2012
  3. Revision notes on pressure groups

    • Essay length: 1308 words
    • Submitted: 13/03/2012

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Assess the contribution of interest groups to democratic government

    "In conclusion, whilst there are clearly undemocratic aspects to interest groups as seen with the elitist and corporatist theory, sectional interests and direct action, their democratic contribution outweighs this as they protect the rights of minorities, they hold the government to account, and play a huge role in educating the public and encouraging participation. Therefore, their contribution is largely democratic."

  • To What Extent Are The Wealthiest Pressure Groups The Most Successful Ones

    "In conclusion I agree that wealthy pressure groups are the most successful because they are able to purchase influence through many different ways and get what they want, almost all of the pressure groups in the limelight or who are successful are evidently wealth, this is not to say however that wealth is their only factor for success public support, expertise and media support are also important for their success. It could be argued that these could be obtained through wealth however we can see that wealth does not completely drop the veil over peopleâs eyes as we see some wealthy pressure groups such as the CFI come under increasing pressure from the public."

  • A Cabinet Minister once described Pressure Groups as Creatures which strangle efficient government. Discuss how justified this view of Pressure Groups is today.

    "In conclusion, Pressure groups help to maintain the pluralism in our democracy. This means that for every pro pressure group, theyâll always be a pressure group against the same issue. This keeps the balance of society in tact and this is why Pressure Groups are an important part of society and government on a local and national level."

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