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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.
Pressure Groups - Explain the factors that influence the choice of methods used by different pressure groups
Greenpeace are a promotional group because they aim to promote the cause of a ?greener? society, and change attitudes to help preserve the Earth. 1. Explain the factors that influence the choice of methods used by different pressure groups [10 marks] The overall aim of all pressure groups is to influence the decision makers?they do not seek power themselves, only to influence the people with the political power to make key
- Word count: 538
Despite widespread interest their activities, pressure groups rarely have any significant influence over government policy. Discuss.
The factors include group aims, status, public mood and methodology. The group aims of a group are very important in determining whether the group will be successful,sometimes, pressure groups have important aims but they don't fit in with the mood of the public, resulting in the gaining of no or little support. Outsider groups have limited resources and less chance of success when compared to insider groups but this is not always the case as in 1997 the outsider group Snowdrop proved to achieve its aims and influence the government policy.
- Word count: 1150
We Are The 100%. Many agree with the cause and consider the Occupy Movement to have several valid points. Protestors and observers of the movement are outraged by the state of the economy and feel that the government is not doing everything it can to hel
Our nation is clearly on the wrong track which is exactly why the Occupy Protests are justifiable. This country has detoured off the main road for so long that its citizens are finally realizing what exactly is wrong, and are redirecting the wheel in order to restore balance to this one sided nation. We as a country have veered away from the very ideals at which we were founded. We have centered our country on gaining power and money instead of what our forefathers fought so hard for. The United States of America was once a land of hope and opportunity.
- Word count: 1961