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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. 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
  2. What was the importance of the Pisistratid tyranny for the development of Athens?

    The tyranny lasted for 35 years in total and including the time of Solon, the people saw a long time without aristocratic rule. "No one could compel him to rule constitutionally. That he did so from choice is a measure of his political intelligence and in the end its one key to his place in the evolution of Athens" Andrews Pisistratus helped Athens on its way to democracy, some reasons as to why his rule was so popular was because of several things.

    • Word count: 1102
  3. 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
  4. In What Ways Do Pressure Groups Influence The Government? Consequently, Do Pressure Groups Strengthen Or Weaken Democracy?

    These groups vary in size and aims and can be permanent (such as friends of the earth) who continually campaign for their particular cause or can be temporary (such as CND, the campaign for nuclear disarmament) who would disperse if their cause was attained or irreversibly lost. Sectional groups represent and further the interests of a particular part of society and as a result the members of these groups are more directly concerned with the outcome of the campaign at hand as they usually stand to gain something (professionally, economically). Therefore membership is usually limited to the sole members of that particular group of the population and aim to involve all those that are eligible to join.

    • Word count: 1350
  5. 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
  6. 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.

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  7. 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?

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  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Why Have Pressure Groups Become More Popular Than Political Parties?

    Nor are they seen by many, for example, the Government, the media and the public, as being so. The main differences between political parties and pressure groups being namely, that political parties seek to be elected and to govern the country as a whole, whereas, pressure groups do not. However, there are some pressure groups which do stand for election, all be it in the minority, for example, the anti-abortion group and the referendum party, which are, in actual fact, single issue groups. These do in the main, stand in elections, yet political parties still have a stronghold within elections.

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  11. Article reviewed: deLeon, Peter, and Ralph C. Longobardi. "Policy Analysis in the Good Society." The Good Society

    Americans don't seem to trust their government, but do trust their community. From this, the authors see the possibility of a new style of government that arises from communities becoming empowered to solve local problems and "create institutions" that best serve local needs. This idea, while very attractive, is beset by a number of problems, including the instability and uncertainty of today's democracy, competing interest groups, and the massive size of the American populace. We are beyond the capacity to hold a town meeting for the entire country. There have been noted studies, however, that present options that have been successful in some areas.

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  12. In what ways do pressure groups strengthen democracy?

    Feedback is an important part of a true democracy, the process must be a "two way" thing. pressure groups help this to happen. essentially this is done by insider groups. An example of this was the labour government of the seventies, when trade unions played a big part in industrial policy making. Outsider groups replace this with campaigns, rallies, protest, etc. Pressure groups often are consulted over decisions, which is another way they strengthen democracy. Insider groups tend to have more effect because they have more expertise essential to the current topic than outsider groups.

    • Word count: 757
  13. How do British Pressure groups exert influence?

    This was founded in 1787 under William Wilberforce, and successfully achieved its objective to abolish slavery in 1807. A pressure group can be a huge organisation like the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), which represents 150,000 businesses, and it can also be a single-issue locally based organisation like CLARA (Central Area Leamington Resident's Association), which represents less than 300 households campaigning to preserve and improve the town of Leamington Spa. The definition also does not distinguish between the more extreme pressure groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, whose campaigns include illegal activities such as planting bombs, and pressure groups such as the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which have links to the Labour government and have regular contact with cabinet ministers.

    • Word count: 1981
  14. 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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  15. Pressure Groups in democracy

    Outsider groups however do not participate in the consultation process, mainly by government exclusion but sometimes by choice. Most outsider groups aim to achieve insider status, so they can gain more influence. These differences between Insider and Outsider groups is important in the influence they have over the government, and also in how democratic this system is. Although the British political system is already supposed to be democratic, it is frequently pondered if pressure groups are part of what makes it fair and improves the system, or if their influence is a threat to the democratic process in the United Kingdom.

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  16. Are pressure groups good for democracy?

    The pluralist view has four main standpoints. Firstly Pressure groups are an important means of political representation. By joining a pressure group people are able to express their feelings on certain issues and help to influence government decisions on that issue. Secondly pressure groups complement political parties. By joining a pressure group the public can put pressure on political parties to give priority to certain issues. Thirdly Pressure groups ensure that the minority views are heard by decision makers. Fourthly Pressure groups help to disperse power away from central institutions, thus giving more power to the people and promoting democracy.

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  17. Are pressure groups a threat to the democratic process in the United Kingdom?

    The position of pressure groups in the democratic process within the United Kingdom is intriguing. Pressure groups rarely become active within the democratic process by way of seeking representation at a local and national government level. Most pressure groups have some kind of internal democracy, but cause and episodic groups are likely to have a decentralised structure, taking decisions to the membership of the groups, where as corporatist groups will hold elections to committees that make decisions on behalf of the membership. Interest groups such as the trade unions have a very democratic structure, as they are required to be by law.

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  18. Describe the influence pressure groups have on Parliament

    There are some very large and wealthy pressure groups which can afford to pay many MP?s to promote their causes in Parliament which in affect will get their points across quicker and more efficiently. Other smaller pressure groups which do not have the same wealth as larger ones suffer with this downfall as it is a lot harder to get their points into parliament so will often turn to demonstrations to get the governments attention. Direct contact with the public is one of the most popular methods used by pressure groups. These include door-to-door canvassing and more favourably, large demonstrations.

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  19. To what extent do pressure groups promote pluralist democracy?

    An example of this could be Unite, Britain?s biggest trade unions that represent general workers. Another classification could be insider pressure groups; they tend to have close and established working relationship with government. An example of an insider pressure group could be the RSPCA who consult with ministers and Parliament on animal welfare. The definition of insider and outsider pressure groups was created by Wyn Grant and considered pressure groups from the perspective of their relationship with the political establishment, the government and civil service. Pluralist democracy is a particular type of democracy, which operates with numerous organised groups who all have some political power in the decision making forum.

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  20. To what extent are the largest pressure groups the most successful ones?

    This means that large groups tend to be wealthy. Being a wealthy group means that they have financial and economic power. For example, major corporations such as are the main source of employment and investment in the economy so the government will seek their cooperation. For wealthy groups that aren?t business groups will possess financial strength to employ professional lobbyists and public relations consultants.

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  21. 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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  22. To What Extent Are The Wealthiest Pressure Groups The Most Successful Ones

    The Tax Payers Alliance is another example of a wealthy pressure group that is successful because of its wealth. The TPA has been able to gain significant influence with the Conservative government due to their wealth and several Tory MPs are members of the TPA. These are insider groups who have used their wealth to gain this status and therefore influence. An outsider group arguably needs even more funding to be successful for example Greenpeace's wealth has enabled them to bring the issue of the environment to near the top of the political agenda. The wealth of Greenpeace has allowed them to branch out in multiple ways to influence the public and government.

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  23. The Key to success of a pressure group lies in its membership base. Discuss

    Finance is a very important part of a pressure group it is nearly impossible to sustain a pressure group of any significant size without ample finances, the larger a pressure group often the more cash donors are able to support the party. A larger pressure group also creates more connections and networks to people that may be in perhaps a position of power to help influence others to the cause. Taking this into account if a party is large however isn?t receiving ample financial support the success of the pressure party will be greatly held back as it cannot pressure government without various legal & media campaigns - despite this large finances aren?t essential to play to the media.

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  24. Pressure groups revison notes

    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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  25. To what extent have pressure groups in the UK changed in recent years?

    An example of this may be the Liberal Democrats Party which has lost support from some people because of its changing views relating to civil liberties. In order to be able to govern the country, the Liberal Democrats like all the other main political parties have had to adapt their policies and viewpoints such as their standpoint on civil liberties in order to gain approval and support of the public. In doing this, they have lost support of some people who believe that liberties and freedoms take precedence over everything else in a healthy and well-run society.

    • Word count: 1589

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