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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

    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.

    • Word count: 798
  2. 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.

    • Word count: 875
  3. 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.

    • Word count: 749
  4. 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)

    • Word count: 765
  5. 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.

    • Word count: 465
  6. 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.

    • Word count: 453
  7. 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.

    • Word count: 935
  8. 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.

    • Word count: 930
  9. How does British Airways affect local communities?

    Aircrafts and vehicles emit nitrogen dioxide (NO) and fine particles (PM). These are harmful to our health and the environment around us. This is why British Airways uses extra-economy fuel on all their planes and they would also like to point out that their planes have newer technology which reduces the emit-ion of harmful gases and particles. Even though airports are located on prime-locations, houses around them have their values decreased. This is mainly due to noise pollution. A resident of Colnbrook points out that her house is worth �50,000 less than an equivalent house 15 miles away.

    • Word count: 769
  10. To what extent do pressure groups undermine the democratic process

    Yet it has great influence over the government because its members provide an important service. A further example of this factor is the Farmers association. Again, they represent a very small proportion of the country, but retain much influence over the government as they provide much of Britain's food supply. Another democratic feature of pressure groups is the way in which they collectively represent most, if not all, members of the public. In the vast majority of our activities there probably exists a group who is seeking to promote favourable legislation regarding such activities. For example most people will have been a motorist, or a holidaymaker, or a hospital patient or a student at one point in their lifetime.

    • Word count: 866
  11. Pressure Groups

    It is because of this rationale primarlay that pressure groups are a positive feature of the democratic process. Pressure Groups may be seen to strengthen democracy in that they encourage wider participation in the political process, particularly single issue protest groups such as Stonewall the NSPCC and WWF. They promote debate on issues which leads to a better informed electorate; such pressure groups play an educational role. For government and civil servants pressure groups often provide valuable information and advice necessary for the development of policy.

    • Word count: 913
  12. What factors may lead to pressure groups being successful?

    Although 'New' Labour has distanced itself from trade unions and refused to bring them back the powers they enjoyed before the Thatcher days, trade unions are still known to have connections with the government and are considered to be insider groups. Of course, there are different trade unions under different labels; but generally speaking, they have a much greater status with the Labour party in power than they have with the Conservative party. It can therefore be claimed that the party in power has great significance in determining the level of the pressure group's success.

    • Word count: 948
  13. DETAINING TERRORIST SUSPECTS Democracy and judicial review:The main opposition to judicial review is that it is anti democratic-

    This means that they do not represent the voice or minds of the masses. The article primarily focuses on the detention of terrorist suspect in Guantanamo bay, Cuba. At its commencement it welcomes the fact that democracies must defend themselves from any threat- fro example countries are entitled to try officers and soldiers of enemy forces for war crimes, thus taking the notion that "it is better to hold a suspect (of grave crime) in custody than to let him free"-it is only at this point were the article adopts the view that it is all for the best.

    • Word count: 729
  14. Are pressure groups good for democracy?

    There are many positive and negative factors of pressure groups on a democracy. Positive factors of pressure groups are they are effective channels of communication between the people and the government, the groups provide detailed and valuable information on areas of economic and social activity and so help the government towards making better decisions. They will listen to the views of different people and can make a decision about what the general feeling is on the topic in question. These pressure groups will then present their argument to the government in a way that they think is suitable and which will get the message across of the people's feelings.

    • Word count: 786
  15. What Factors Lead to Pressure Groups Succeeding or Failing?

    So some pressure groups will expect better treatment from one party than another and success or failure will therefore depending on the government in power at the time. Finance is a crucial factor leading to a pressure group being successful, since running effective campaigns can be very expensive, so wealthy supporters provides an obvious advantage. Also small pressure groups with large finances can use funds to finance political parties and so receive sympathetic treatment and gain rewards. For example, the governments refusal to ban all advertising on cigarettes, and the lack of action taken by them to break the brewers' virtual monopoly over public houses.

    • Word count: 922
  16. Critically examine the ways a pressure group contributes to representative democracy

    However many are unsatisfied with their representation and join pressure groups to make their views heard. The question is, is this good or bad for our democracy? Pluralism is the way in which the electorate joins groups to have an effect on government. Many pro-pluralists believe pluralism exists to stop the perceived failures of a representative democracy. They think pluralism contributes to representative democracy because people are denied influence between elections. Furthermore they add that manifesto promises are usually broken, with no repercussions on the government. Pressure groups like Greenpeace, put pressure on the government to not do this.

    • Word count: 759
  17. Do pressure groups help democracy or undermine it?

    They can probably scrutinize the government better then the opposition because the pressure group have many people and can use different legal methods to make the government accountable for what they do so that the people have a chance to see what the government is actually doing. Pressure groups also allow people to participate in politics so they are good for political participation. People may not want to join any particular party because they disagree with the policies but they may want to join a pressure group that shares the same issues as there own so that they can participate in politics without having to join any party which has policies that a person disagrees with.

    • Word count: 840
  18. Pressure group democracy.

    This is why the RSPCA stays silent so to respect the views of its members. However, not all pressure groups are so content to stay out of an important subject such as this and this will then mean, they have to choose internally which policy they want to follow. This is done by judging internally how much support each faction has and then decide which policy they should follow. That is an example of internal democracy as pressure groups have t make decisions about which things to follow and this is usually done by simply seeing what proportion of the group is in favour of it.

    • Word count: 826
  19. Analysis of Sakamato Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration by Marius Jansen.

    This type of adoration is understandable when one understands the significant impact that Ryoma made within Japan. Ryoma was a lower samurai of the Tosa clan. He was renowned for his ability at Kendo. His position as a lower samurai endears him too the average Japanese now, as his story is one of successful upward mobility. Ryoma's greatest accomplishment was his unification of the Satsuma and Chosu clans.

    • Word count: 294
  20. To what extent are pressure groups a threat to democracy?

    This is significant as insider status is often linked to political leverage and the resources available to an organisation. Therefore, it is argued that those groups which are well resourced and represent the privileged in society are often better placed to influence government decisions than others which attempt to protect the interests of the disadvantaged. Some people also say that some of the most important decisions made by government involving insider groups take place behind closed doors which is not democratic as only certain people are involved. People with these views feel that the success of pressure groups in this regard can undermine democracy as the government may be required to compromise its programme in order to accommodate the views of a section of society when they may not be shared by the majority of the citizens.

    • Word count: 668
  21. Success of pressure groups

    Some particular pressure groups may consist with very few members and still make a difference with their campaign this may be, because they are expressing a view easier to change or that they make such an impression that the government stands up and takes notice. Insider pressure groups are basically pressure groups recognized by the government to be legitimate, because of this insider groups are more openly addressed by the government and play a more significant role in decision making, a good example of this is they may be given regular meetings with ministers or civil servants and may even be included on lists for circulation of new government proposals.

    • Word count: 987
  22. What factors lead to a pressure group being successful?

    Another factor which lead to the success of FOE is, FOE local groups use a wide range of campaigning tactics, ranging from political lobbying to public education through street stalls, and promoting citizen action. Many groups are also actively involved in injecting genuine policies and practices on sustainable development into their local agenda 21 processes. Using these methods can lead to their success because instead of just arguing with the opposition and/or the government, they a getting the public involved and active in their favour.

    • Word count: 893
  23. Do pressure groups enhance democracy?

    Cumulative inequalities between groups are widening, as some groups are more effective than others in securing funding. Many groups represent narrow sectional (vested) interests Pressure groups encourage unrealistic expectations among the electorate of what government can actually do - leading in the long run to a growing disillusionment with modern politics and a decline in voter turnout and engagement in the political process What are pressure groups?

    • Word count: 559
  24. Do pressure groups strengthen or weaken democracy?

    Pressure groups can provide representation and remedy shortcomings in the representative government, they articulate interests and advance views that are ignored by parties and so in particular can provide a voice for minority groups and issues. They promote debate and discussion enabling new concerns and issues to reach the political agenda thereby facilitating social progress and preventing social stagnation. Consultation with affected groups is surely a rational way to make decisions in a free society enabling intensity of feeling on issues to be gauged.

    • Word count: 682
  25. Important factors that effect the success and failures of pressure groups

    They can also use the money to by good legal services such as good solicitors and barristers. Pressure groups like Unison has an income of about �100 million whereas Liberty has an income of only �500,000. This means that the smaller pressure group will be less effective and less successful because it does not have the same sort of money to fund for it. The number of people can also have an effect on how a pressure groups works. Since there are lots of pressure groups aiming at different aspects, there is less democratic deficit.

    • Word count: 617

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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