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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.

  • 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.

    • Word count: 1225
  2. 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.

    • Word count: 1308
  3. 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.

    • Word count: 1374
  4. 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.

    • Word count: 1323
  5. 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.

    • Word count: 1143
  6. 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.

    • Word count: 1045
  7. 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.

    • Word count: 1250
  8. 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.

    • Word count: 1008
  9. 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.

    • Word count: 1932
  10. 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.

    • Word count: 1850
  11. 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

    • Word count: 1612
  12. 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.

    • Word count: 1508
  13. constraint in marketing campaign

    Society Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) cares about the communities where we live and work and we encourage our employees to get involved in our Citizenship programmes and play an active role in supporting their own local community. Below are details of initiatives that we support. Youth Education & Mentoring Programmes Employees at our Coca-Cola head office in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, volunteer their time to act as business mentors to young people and Head Teachers from the local schools in the borough.

    • Word count: 1003
  14. LESSON 1: Pressure Groups

    4. THE SECTIONAL & CAUSE GROUP CLASSIFICATION DOES NOT HELP TO CLARIFY THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRESSURE GROUP. fOR aGAINST Clarification - tell us who they are, what they stand for etc. Many groups cut across too groups People assume sectional groups are generally more influential and resourced than cause groups Some people believe the terms 'sectional and cause' to suggest an ideological preference. I.e.- sectional -> good Cause -> bad 5. Some pressure groups can be hard to classify. The British Medical Association, for example, is a sectional group as it seeks to improve the pay and working conditions of those employed in the health sector.

    • Word count: 1889
  15. Sectional pressure groups are ones that aim to represent the common interests of a particular section of society and are mostly concerned with only that part of society; so as a result, membership is often closed and restricted.

    A pressure group for both of these categories would be age concern. (2) There are many methods pressure groups employ to influence the political process. Most pressure groups are careful to maintain a non-partisan approach; some can only realistically expect to exert influence if a particular party is in power. For example, it is only since labour came into power in 1997 that the Electoral Reform Society had any realistic change of achieving its goals because the Conservatives were strongly opposed to electoral reform whilst in government.

    • Word count: 1990
  16. 'The existence of pressure groups makes government more democratic; the activities of pressure groups also make democratically elected governments more effective

    This issue will be discussed further in the American politics part of this essay. Pressure Groups In Britain Stereotype has it that the relationship between pressure groups and the government is adversarial. However pressure groups often prove they are very useful by providing information to government ministers and civil servants if they lack information on policies, particularly controversial issues. Pressure groups provide a "Pro and Anti" argument when controversial issues are raised in parliament, henceforth it can be argues that pressure groups help departments make wiser policies for the people, democratising its appeal amongst voters.

    • Word count: 1782
  17. What, in de Tocqueville's view, are the virtues and what are the vices of democratic government?

    It does not do so, but merely "contributes to the well-being of the greatest number"2. The corollary of this is that this leads to a 'tyranny of the majority', which will be discussed later. A second advantage of democracy is that it fosters an active part for citizens in governorship. According to Jack Lively, "the greatest advantage of democratic government was that it nurtured a habit of involvement in public concerns"3. Democracy unites people with dissimilar customs and traditions, in that the franchise is one of the only things that they have in common; because it grants the right of a say in how citizens live, it is an extremely powerful connector in building a sense of cohesion.

    • Word count: 1904
  18. This house believes that democracy is undesirable for a good society".

    o Locke goes onto ague that any person willing, or desiring to do the job of leading the people must only want that position for selfish reasons. Be they egotistical, megalomaniacal or material. It is argued that anyone wanting the job, therefore, is unsuitable. * The media has made democracy easier. In that there are more ways to stay informed, such as the traditional newspaper, to the internet. People have much more choice now also. They need not continue reading or watching biased coverage of politics.

    • Word count: 1797
  19. Compare and Contrast Pluralist and Marxist Accounts of Power in the UK and US.

    Marxism accounts for the location of power in a completely different manner. It asserts that the only basis of power is economic power, and that that is unequally distributed. Unlike pluralism it indicates the existence of a ruling class which has a virtual monopoly of power, and Marxism also disagrees that the existence of institutions such as the church or courts of law help to disperse power from the state, as it claims that they are merely part of the 'Superstructure' of society which tries to justify the inequalities inherent in modern society.

    • Word count: 1855
  20. Pressure Groups - Exam Questions

    Either way pressure groups take action in hope to gain influence in decision making. All pressure groups need to attract public support if they are to gain a large following to support their cause which usually had more influence over the government and political process. Some pressure groups, in fact nearly all pressure groups use some form of the media to gain publicity, this usually works well as the media ands pressure groups have a two way relationship whereby the pressure groups get to promote their cause and use the media to highlight their issues and in return the media gets the stories they want.

    • Word count: 1012
  21. Do you consider the political activities of organised groups (pressure groups) to enhance or threaten the quality of democracy in Britain today?

    Furthermore the actions of 'outsiders' and the increasing use of direct and radical action has meant a rise in the criticism of pressure groups for the democratic process. Outsiders rather than that of insiders use methods outside government apparatus such as petitions, civil disobedience and marches etc. This is in comparison to that of the insiders who are close to the political centre. In the 1970's with the Labour government it was described as having 'beer and sandwiches at no.

    • Word count: 1717
  22. Politics - Democracy in the UK.

    Indirect democracy is more effective given the size of society. Therefore it is impossible (currently) to take into considerations the views of all members of society on all decisions. Once the representative is chosen he is given a certain amount of time to do his or her job, in the UK this is 5 years although the PM can choose to call elections at anytime. There is a peaceful transition of power which goes to show that the system is a peaceful one. Indirect democracy relieves the "ordinary" citizen of decision making and leaves it to the ""experts" in govt.

    • Word count: 1059
  23. Sectional and promotional pressure groups.

    (2) What methods do pressure groups employ to influence the political process? The aim of all pressure groups is to influence the people who actually have the power to make decisions. Pressure groups do not look for the power of political office for themselves, but do seek to influence the decisions made by those who do hold this political power. Often pressure groups find themselves competing with rival pressure groups with the aim of gaining an advantage over them, but sometimes groups work together to achieve a common aim. Pressure groups provide a means of popular participation in national politics between elections.

    • Word count: 1099
  24. Pressure groups in a democracy.

    A more extreme group is the Animal Liberation Front, whose campaigns include the illegal activities such as planting bombs. There are several factors that make a pressure group successful. The first factor that the government would probably look at is that is the group is known as an 'insider' or 'outsider' group. Insider groups have strong links with decision makers and are regularly consulted. They are the groups that the government - local or national - considers to be legitimate and are, therefore, given access to decision makers. For example, insider groups might be included in regular meetings with ministers or civil servants and they might be included on lists for circulation of new government proposals, as these groups

    • Word count: 1574
  25. Pressure Groups.

    a group may be set up in order to protest against a telephone mast being erected). The aim of all pressure groups is to influence the people who actually have the power to make decisions and they seek to influence the decisions made by those who do hold political power. Pressure groups provide a means of popular participation in national politics between elections. They are sometimes able to gather sufficient support to force government to amend or even scrap legislation. A pressure group can use a variety of different methods to influence law and government legislation.

    • Word count: 1248

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 people’s 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, they’ll 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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