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.

78 AS and A Level Pressure Groups essays

  • Marked by Teachers essays 2
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Why are some pressure groups more successful than others?

    4 star(s)

    However, an outsider group is one that operates outside the government, they have no special links with them but they still seek to influence decision makers by (usually) mobilising public opinion, an example would be Fathers 4 justice. They're generally not involved in the Law Making process and so don't have a chance to influence legislation. This may be due to previous protests or demonstrations which have made their relationship with the government hostile. Generally, Insider groups would be more successful that outsider groups because of the influences that they do hold and the power they have to change the decisions made by the government.

    • Essay length: 1225 words
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Do pressure groups enhance or threaten democracy?

    3 star(s)

    General elections are too infrequent to be the sole means to influence policy. Once every 4-5 years is an inadequate public input and does not make the political system very democratic. However General Elections are not the be all and end all of the public's right to influence govt. This is where pressure groups come into play they seek to influence government throughout the term in office until their cause is met making the system more democratic. On top of this a limited choice exists in reality as to who should govern the country as the Labour and Conservative parties dominate politics in England.

    • Essay length: 798 words
  3. Assess the contribution of interest groups to democratic government

    Whilst there are perceived limits to their beneficial contributions, interest groups play an invaluable role in education and participation and therefore their contribution is overwhelmingly positive. Interest groups may be considered as bad for democratic government because different groups have different levels of influence; far from the idea of the plurality system' which suggests that all groups act equally. This idea is propagated by Schattsschneider in the 'elitist theory' in which he claims 'the flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper class accent.'

    • Essay length: 1565 words
  4. In what way have pressure groups become more important in recent years?

    One possible reason for the rise in importance of pressure groups could be media and technology now used. Technology has vastly improved since the early seventies, with a computer being in nearly every household now, and now the media has the ability to reach those who didn't have access before, this can then raise the profile of certain pressure groups, an example of this would be the coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest in the UK which prompted a similar protest, Occupy London. In recent years, pressure groups have begun to use media seeking actions, to gain more coverage, they have also used more radical direct action, like the Greenpeace protest in February 2008 at Heathrow airport against short-haul flights which gained large press coverage and was therefore seen nationwide.

    • Essay length: 875 words
  5. Revision notes on pressure groups

    * Sectional: a group that protects causes, generally with material concerns and a group "of" people * Benefits only its members and open only to those who meet criteria, e.g. CBI open to businesses, which protects only business interests. Outline 2 differences between insider and outsider pressure groups. * An 'insider' pressure group has access to the process of policy formulation. * Insider groups tend to have a low profile and don't appear in the headlines often * E.g CBI have significant access to government and influence on policy and don't appear in headlines often.

    • Essay length: 1308 words
  6. Pressure groups revision - short questions and answers.

    * Sectional: a group that protects causes, generally with material concerns and a group "of" people * Benefits only its members and open only to those who meet criteria, e.g. CBI open to businesses, which protects only business interests. Outline 2 differences between insider and outsider pressure groups. * An 'insider' pressure group has access to the process of policy formulation. * Insider groups tend to have a low profile and don't appear in the headlines often * E.g CBI have significant access to government and influence on policy and don't appear in headlines often.

    • Essay length: 1308 words
  7. Discuss why pressure groups are sometimes criticised.

    Due to the break down of trust for politicians after events such as the expenses scandal, people are looking towards other places to get their information on how the world is working. They feel that because pressure groups are not seeking power that they will give opinions that are free from bias and spin, such as that which political parties. And yet pressure groups do often present biased opinions. Unlike political parties, pressure groups are able to focus on a single issue to the point where they exclude other issues that will have an influence.

    • Essay length: 1374 words
  8. What are the reasons for the increasing importance of pressure group activity?

    There are a lot of reasons for such a shift the most important of which will be now examined. They are: similarity of political parties, which was already mentioned, the success of direct action and the increase in number of access points. As it was said before, the membership in political parties has seriously fallen in recent years. Comparing with 1950's, when there were around 4 million people involved in party politics, the number of politicians today is around 400,000 and percentage of turnout in elections decreased from 85% to 60-65% throughout the same period of time.

    • Essay length: 1323 words
  9. Are pressure groups good or bad for democracy?

    Today there are thousands of pressure groups all over the world: from huge organisations like Greenpeace to tiny ones as for instance CLARA (Central Area Leamington Resident's Association). They use a variety of methods to influence the government on hundreds of issues and provide mean of popular participation in national politics between the elections. But are they actually beneficial for democracy? Before answering this (seemingly) simple question we need to look in detail on pressure group activity and find its strong and weak points.

    • Essay length: 2201 words
  10. The wealthier and the closer the pressure group is to the government, the more successful they are." a) How far do you agree? (25 marks) b) What does this tell us about pressure groups and democracy in Britain today

    rather than many and for this reason it appears that wealth is the key determinant in regards to the success of a ambitious pressure group. For the majority of outsider groups to succeed, they are likely to require a substantial amount of financial backing. An example of this is Greenpeace who possess over 3 million international supporters and a global annual turnover, which rose by 11% in 2009. Greenpeace's overwhelming level of wealth has stressed the importance of wealth for outsider groups in particular, and Greenpeace's wealth has enabled them to bring the issue of the environment to near the top of the political agenda.

    • Essay length: 2629 words
  11. Examples, methods and the effects on democracy of pressure groups.

    Letter writing campaigns are used to give an idea of how many people are supporting the campaign though a bit old fashioned, much like petitioning its rather affective.Some of the more extreme pressure groups are Animal Liberation Front, whose campaigns include the illegal activities such as planting bombs, Demonstrations and protest marching show public support also and can lead to another method used which is media campaigning, if a group draws enough attention to itself it will definitely be covered by something be it tv radio or newspaper, this also happens intentionally so that people who perhaps were unaware of the groups activity or even existence is being exposed to it and their opinions and so are the politicians.

    • Essay length: 1143 words
  12. Access the view that pressure groups strengthen democracy.

    This is because pressure groups generally focus upon single issue politics, which can prove effective especially when groups are large in number as they make considerable effort to assist public opinion by means of campaigns, advertising, concerts, and general use of the media. A pressure group that have used these tactics to gain recognition among the government, and the world are Make Poverty History. However, it is seen by many that the only way to gain recognition as a pressure group is by having groups with large memberships, for example, Greenpeace is now a worldwide organisation with national and regional offices in 46 countries, with over 2.9 million financial members worldwide.

    • Essay length: 1112 words
  13. Pressure Groups

    What methods do pressure groups employ to influence the political process? The two main tactics for pressure groups in trying to influence the political process are "direct" and "indirect" methods. Direct methods are as they sound, a more "direct" and up-front, if sometimes controversial, way of achieving the pressure groups aims. These range from lobbying key policy makers (both at home at west-minister and abroad at the EU parliament) to directly funding political parties sympathetic to the pressure groups cause. The most famous method of direct action is that of breaking law, for example in 1990 when there was a mass refusal of the public to pay the new poll tax.

    • Essay length: 1045 words
  14. How Do Pressure Groups Exert Influence And Which Pressure Groups Are The Most Powerful?

    Operation Father Ted swings into ecumenical action at York Minster. Activist Monks climb the roof of St Paul's. Government Ministers are handcuffed. Guy Harrison scales 150ft to the top of the roof of the House of Commons and the National Lottery is taken off air the list of extraordinary protests is endless > Using violence - For an example, The Animal Liberation Front who have famously used violence and outrageous methods in order to get their point across. They have used letter bombs, car fires and even gone as far to dig up the dead. > Protesting - There are several forms of protesting from a walking protest to a hunger strike.

    • Essay length: 1250 words
  15. How has Pressure Groups contributed to Democracy?

    How then do pressure groups fit in to contribute to the concept of democracy? Pluralism Firstly, in the pluralist model of democracy, pressure groups play an essential role. Pluralists uphold the principle that political power in liberal democracy is widely distributed rather than controlled by an elite or ruling body. Political parties cannot provide adequate representation for the full range of diverse interest and opinions. Hence, pressure groups enable particular interests and causes to be heard. They are therefore able to exert influence the government by mobilising public opinion. There are many examples of successful pressure groups that display this feature of pluralism and some of which have changed the face of law making.

    • Essay length: 749 words
  16. Are pressure groups good or bad for democracy? Harmful or Helpful?

    Examples of pressure group activity helping democracy include Brown v. Board of Education which transformed the South, Rose v. Wade, legalised abortion. Also Lawrence v. Texas which meant that laws which discriminated against gays were declared unconstitutional and, in 2004, gay marriage was permitted in Massachusetts. Both of these changes were the result of intense pressure group activity (and to some extent counteract the view that minority voices aren't heard because of 'the elite'). b) They express view and interests of different groups in society that cut across state boundaries (unlike parties who must have a broad appeal to their constituents)

    • Essay length: 765 words
  17. Define a pressure group and how they can be classified.

    Members usually hope to gain some personal benefit. (Such as trade unions and employers organisations.) The other opposing to this is a cause or promotional group which campaign on moral, political, social, ethical or spiritual, or issues of conci8ence with no link to self gain, (e.g. human rights, abortion, animal welfare) and membership is usually open to anybody who shares a similar belief system.

    • Essay length: 465 words
  18. Analyse the ways in which US pressure groups are more significant than their UK counterparts.

    Many pressure groups have full-time offices in Washington and employ ex-politicians to lobby Congress on their behalf. Pressure groups, such as the National Rifle Association and the labour unions, actively seek to alter the composition of Congress itself by campaigning on behalf of, or against potential members of Congress. The Federal Election Campaigns Act (1974) had the effect of regulating the amount of money an interest group could donate to a presidential or congressional candidate. This led to pressure groups setting up Political Action Committees, through which to channel their donations. Today there are nearly 5000 PACs, and only ten Congressmen do not accept PAC contributions to their campaigns.

    • Essay length: 1008 words
  19. why have pressure groups become more important in recent years

    green peace gas a full in-house studio where it produces television studio where it produces video and television documentaries highlighting it aims and ways to help. Many pressure groups such NSPCC also have TV advertisements with emotive pictures to urge people to donate and make people aware of their causes.In this way a greater proportion of the electorate are directly or indirectly mre active in pressure groups ,thus increasing their influence and profile.

    • Essay length: 453 words
  20. Why are pressure groups more important powerful in America compared to the UK?

    It is expected to implement its promises and faces political embarrassment if it fails to do so. Pressure groups do not have the political clout to block specific policies, as they are an unelected body, which means that they do not hold the mandate. It is possible to make policy quickly and to achieve radical change and reform. Parliament has no separate authority to rival the government of the day. Nor does Britain have a codified constitution to limit government power; nor an entrenched Bill of Rights. So, the courts have not been a significant target of pressure group activity.

    • Essay length: 935 words
  21. Cuban Government structure.

    The electorates can nominate between two to eight candidates, which is very similar to Australia's electorates. Each candidate is given the same amount of publicity which is paid by the state. This prevents undemocratic spectacles, such as those in the US which spend millions of dollars in campaign. Again this is very democratically, even more so than other countries. Although candidates do not have to be members of the PCC they are nominated as individuals, since no other parties are allowed other than the PCC. Cuba's political system has many features that are democratic, however there are still socialist features.

    • Essay length: 1932 words
  22. Why are some pressure groups more successful than others?

    So success can come in a number of ways. But why are some groups more successful than others? Philosophy Where a group's beliefs and aspirations are close to those of the government of the day, success is very likely. Business groups have certainly done well under the Conservatives in the past, and since 1997 have also been achieving success under New Labour. Trade unions used to be highly favoured by Labour, but have now lost their strategic position. On the other hand, the anti-poverty policies pursued by Gordon Brown under Labour have put pensioner and lone parent groups in a good position.

    • Essay length: 1850 words
  23. The changing nature and activities of pressure groups - to what extent are they becoming more important?

    We can identify a number of reasons why this is so. Recruitment The goal of political parties is to build coalitions of support over broad-ranged policies to win elections. Naturally, people with strong feelings on controversial issues (that may offend groups of voters) do not get a great deal of encouragement from, or rise to prominence within, political parties. Pressure groups on the other hand are full of these motivated, ideological individuals. Rising living standards, greater access to information and a growing 'social consciousness' have combined to ensure that many more people have the time, inclination and energy to reject

    • Essay length: 1612 words
  24. Democratic features of pressure groups

    In some cases we may be active members and so know exactly what issues are being addressed. In other cases we are not active, but are nevertheless being passively represented. Even the smallest minorities are likely to enjoy such benefits. So pressure groups have important representative functions to perform. 3. Participation A passive citizenry is often seen as a danger to democracy. When people do not involve themselves in political activity there is a strong probability that government will become dictatorial, safe in the knowledge that its power is unlikely to be challenged. Political activism is therefore important both to prevent excessive accumulation of power and to ensure that government remains accountable to the people.

    • Essay length: 1508 words
  25. pressure groups

    For example, former Ohio senator Howard Metzenbaum followed a career of 18 years in congress by becoming chairman of the consumer federation of America. Consequently, this potential method of pressure groups seems to some, as adding to the hindrance of democracy in the US. In spite of this, many claim that pressure groups, whether in the US or the UK are very important tools for democratic means. They are the primary functions that help aid citizen participation, especially between elections.

    • Essay length: 930 words

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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