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Revision notes on pressure groups

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Introduction

Pressure Groups Short Questions What is a pressure group? * A pressure group is an organisation which seeks to influence public policy in relation to a particular issue. * Pressure groups tend to have a narrow issue focus and are bound together by shared interests or a common cause. * An example would be the CBI which represents 150,000 business and helps to influence government policy. What are the functions of pressure groups? * Representation * Political participation * Education * Policy formulation * Policy implementation. Outline 2 differences between a political party and a pressure group * A political party seeks to win power at various levels via elections like Labour, whereas pressure groups seek to influence those in power e.g. Make Poverty History. * Generally pressure groups focus on a single or narrow range of issues e.g. Countryside Alliance wanted to legalise hunting * Whereas political parties have to fight elections on a whole range of issues, released in the form of their party manifestos. Outline, with examples, 2 types of pressure groups * Promotional: a group that promotes causes, generally with moral concerns "for" people * Open to anyone and benefits all of society, such as Amnesty International which seeks to protect human rights everywhere, thus helping everyone. ...read more.

Middle

* Some pressure groups have sectional and promotional characteristics. * E.g. UK Coalition of People Living with HIV and AIDS appears to be a sectional group, but also carries out promotional activities linked to public health and education * Single pressure group may include members from both sectional and promotional motivations. E.g. the campaign against a 3rd runway at Heathrow. * Includes people locally, but people concerned about pollution * Some pressure groups mask their sectional motivations by adopting stance of a promotional group. Moral + altruistic concerns carry greater weight with public. * BMA exists to protect doctors, but its spokesmen speak in terms of public health and NHS. Why may some pressure groups choose to remain as outsider groups? * Reflection of the radical nature of a group's goals * Fear of becoming domesticated by being too closely involved with government * Recognition of fact that outsider strategies, like petitions and demonstrations are most likely way of engaging potential supporters * For example massed activism such as the fuel blockade in 2000 by the People's Fuel Lobby. How and why do pressure groups seek to influence Parliament? * Provide a mouthpiece for groups and interests that are not adequately represented through the electoral process or by parties * This is because groups are focussed mostly on individual issues, meaning they can effectively articulate a specific point. ...read more.

Conclusion

* Assessing power = how successful each group is. * Difficult to assess how successful each pressure group is * But can be interpreted through 3 different ways o Affecting government policy o Pushing an issue up the political agenda o Changing people's values * Also, debate over whether pressure groups widen the distribution of power, spreading it across the people * Or whether they concentrate power, strengthening the already powerful. * A.K.A: Pluralism vs. elitism. Explain the growth in the number and size of cause groups in recent years * Over half the cause groups in existence have been created since 1960 * Membership of many leading pressure groups dwarfs that of parties * RSPB has over 1 million members, membership larger than combined 3 major parties * Due to the appeal of the "new politics", characterizes by greater political activism and the spread of grass root participation * New types of political participation such as cyber activism have helped recruit many more members through things such as e-petitions and easy to access information * Emergence of access points such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and devolution has meant there are more ways for pressure groups to try and exert influence. * Globalisation has also strengthened and increased the number of pressure groups, in particular for business related groups * Has led to emergence of NGOs such as World Development Movement * 1992, 2400 NGOs took part in Earth Summit ...read more.

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