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AS and A Level: Pressure Groups
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Five things you should know when studying pressure groups
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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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.
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In what ways, if at all, might it be said that democracy ensures power by the people, for the people?
A pluralist view of democracy derives from a classic liberal way of thinking and is often called liberal democracy. Pluralism is the belief 'in diversity or choice, or the theory that political power should be widely and evenly dispersed.'(Heywood,1998) The pluralist model power is truly ' by the people for the people' as power is exercised through the mass population rather than a small elite. The ideals of a pluralist democracy include the ideas that the electorate is accountable to the elector, governmental institutions are accessible to groups and 'there is a wide dispersal of power among competing groups'.
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The existence of pressure group makes government more democratic; the activities of pressure groups also make democratically e
They often seek information from several relevant groups, as an interest groups approval can help legitimise a policy or even enhance its chances of it being implemented. After the Second World War, in the UK and USA most pressure groups were organised around business, labour, agriculture and profession, now not only is there an upsurge in the number of pressure groups, there is also an increase in the number of concerns pressure groups present. With the diminution in membership of political parties, it appears that people would prefer to invest their energies in pressure groups rather than parties.
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It rests mostly with a small group including the king. In a direct Democracy the government is made by the people, with all functions and duties exercised directly by the populace with few or no elected representatives. There is also a representative Democracy in which is a system where the people participate in the decision-making process of government not directly but indirectly, through the election of officials to represent their interests. The elections of officials who represent are often known as MPs. Britain is apparently a representative democracy. In addition to that there is the Totalitarian state.
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When The Arguments For and Against Have Been Taken Into Account, It Is Clear That Incresingly, Pluralistic Society Pressure Groups are A Supplement To Democracy. How True Is This?
(Professor Whin Grant) Western societies especially are very pluralistic, in that they consist of many different groups representing the very broad population spectrum. These groups include numerous age variations, different class and religious denominations, various ethnic mixes, ranging geographical demography's, etc. Pressure groups mobilise public opinion with the main aim of influencing those who have the power to make decisions in their favour. Perhaps the most basic classification of pressure groups is between sectional groups and cause groups. The former are groups aiming to represent the interests of a particular section of society e.g.
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A Cabinet Minister once described Pressure Groups as Creatures which strangle efficient government. Discuss how justified this view of Pressure Groups is today.
These types of groups are usually terrorist groups such as the Al Qaeda. The other categories Pressure Groups go under are cause groups and sectional groups. Cause groups are groups committed to a particular cause, an example of this would be Greenpeace who are committed to saving the planet. Sectional groups look after the views and feelings of a particular group of the population, an example of this would be the National Union of Teachers (NUT) who represents the views and feelings of most teachers in England, Scotland and Wales. There argument for and against whether pressure groups are good or bad in the United Kingdom.
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Demonstrations 7. Marches 8. Sit-ins 9. Petition 10. Websites 11. Internet 12. Petitions Classification by typology- aims: 1. Developed by writers such as J.D Stewart in the 1950s 2. PROBLEM- typologies overlap and many PGs fight for their own interests and for a cause eg: NUT are concerned with welfare of teachers (Sectional Group) however their also concerned with educational standards (Cause Group) 1. Interest/Sectional: 1. Represents specific parts of population and their interests 2. Known as sectoral, interest or protectionist groups 3. Classified by core aims 4. Serve the interests of their members 5. More 'closed' and 'exclusive' in terms of their membership eg: requiring members to be serving in a particular profession- eg: to join BMA must be qualified medical practitioner or students training to enter profession- eg: trade unions such as the NUT 6.
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