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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.

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  1. 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
  2. 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'.

    • Word count: 2171
  3. 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.

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  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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  8. '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.

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  9. 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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  10. 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.

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  11. 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
  12. 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.

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  13. 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.

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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.

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  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.

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  17. 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.

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  18. 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
  19. 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.

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  20. 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

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  21. 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.

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  22. 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.

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  23. Analyse whether Britain is a true democracy

    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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  24. Critically discuss the simile of the large and powerful animal and of the ship as an argument against democracy.

    He then adds another factor, all the seamen who are under his control, all want to navigate the ship, yet have not been taught by anyone on how to navigate correctly and also have never spent any time in researching the subject. The crew also vehemently deny that such an art can be taught by or to anyone. In the end, the crew congratulate the seaman who knows how to control the captain, through deceit or force, and is congratulated by the rest of his crew for his 'great knowledge of the sea'.

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  25. 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

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