• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'The existence of pressure groups makes government more democratic; the activities of pressure groups also make democratically elected governments more effective

Extracts from this document...


'The existence of pressure groups makes government more democratic; the activities of pressure groups also make democratically elected governments more effective.' Discuss Before deciding whether pressure groups democratise government or make them more effective, it is essential to define what a pressure groups consists of. A modern democratic society involves active citizenship, an open government, the right to vote over the age of 18 years, community, free speech, participation and pluralism. Although elections provide an effective opportunity for people to play a part in politics they are only held once every four years, therefore pressure groups provide continuous involvement in politics. Pressure groups provide an open freedom for citizens, especially minority groups. When like-minded individuals organise events such as demonstrations, campaigns and petitions, governments have no option but to sit up and take notice. Moreover, as pressure groups are based on a single issue, which a large group of people support, they can put their time and effort into being heard by the government. In the USA however, the term "pressure group" is not favoured amongst academics. They see it as a tool that implies force rather than persuasion, thus refer to them as "interest groups"1. This issue will be discussed further in the American politics part of this essay. ...read more.


Human psychology is such that challenging power is for a cause you believe in is worth it. Pressure Groups in the USA As mentioned in the introduction, pressure groups within the USA are seen as interest groups. In the USA nine out of ten people belong to at least one interest group. On average, an American belongs to four groups. The success of interest groups is mainly due to four broad factors; the diverse and heterogeneous American society, weak opposition parties, the fragmented and decentralised structure of the US government and the expansion of government activity.3 In the US many of the poor, particularly those from ethnic origins do not feel aligned to any party. This is especially true as a two-party system operates in the USA, in the 2000 General Election it was recorded that only 40% of the poorest fifth of the country voted, therefore many prefer to belong to an interest group. To a certain extent this contradicts British society as it is usually the poorest in society who feel the need to vote and express their opinions. This is possibly because British society does not hang under the loom of national censorship. Political power in the USA is federal and therefore decentralised, allowing for more access points for ordinary citizens to lobby. ...read more.


Since Thatcher's government believed it had a mandate to govern, many politicians have called for pressure group lobbying to be regulated. This is something that could have both benefits and costs for the government. In effect pressure groups provide a consistent link between the voters and the government, particularly between elections. By regulating their lobbying powers you break this link and many voters could become discontent with the government. However by regulating lobbying the government can make decisions it wants to without the worry of lobbying from pressure groups. It can be argued that this may make the government less democratic. In addition if people want to lobby, government regulations are unlikely to stop them. Therefore it would most certainly be foolish to regulate lobbying in both Britain and the USA as both governments are dependant on the pressure groups to stay in power. Conclusion When weighing the positives and negative aspects of pressure group existence it can be sad that in general they do enhance democracy and make it more effective. Pressure groups play an essential role in a modern democratic society by giving people a voice if they do not intend to join a political party. Moreover it is essential to realise pressure groups intend to influence policy, not control it. Therefore the governmental powers remain whilst the keep a firm grip on their voters though pressure groups. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Pressure Groups section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Pressure Groups essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Why are some pressure groups more successful than others?

    4 star(s)

    demonstration against the rise in university fees in London, this was very publicised and the group drew a lot of attention, however it didn't influence the government and the rise in fees still took place. Pressure groups also raise petitions which can lead to success, such as the National Trust's

  2. Assess the contribution of interest groups to democratic government

    This view is furthered by the Corporatist view which discusses the privileged position that certain groups enjoy in relation to government, which enables them to influence the formation and implementation of policy. This cosy relationship is seen clearly in America where corporate organisations wield a vast deal of power due to their access to lobbyists.

  1. Revision notes on pressure groups

    * E.g. Legalise Cannabis Alliance in 2005 contested 21 constituencies but gaining at most 1.8% of the vote in 1 constituency. * Parties and pressure groups may form part of larger social movements, such as the green movement being

  2. What factors may lead to pressure groups being successful?

    Size of pressure groups is also an important factor. More members (bigger size of pressure group) can not necessarily determine the success of a pressure group. Although having more members shows greater representation, but it often happens that one-member campaigns- like Jamie Oliver's campaign for healthier school meals- are more

  1. The existence of pressure group makes government more democratic; the activities of pressure groups ...

    Within 50 years, membership to the Labour Party has declined from one million to 280,000 members; the Conservative Party's membership has decreased even further from 3 million to 318,000. Meanwhile, membership to organisations such as the National Trust (2.8 million members), and to the Royal Society (one million) has increased.

  2. The wealthier and the closer the pressure group is to the government, the more ...

    This is clearly decreasing democracy in the UK, as it promotes the voice of the rich, and suggests that pressure groups with wealth are fighting a more worthy cause, than those with minimal financial support. Nevertheless, due to their outsider status, green peace's influence on the government is limited.

  1. Pressure groups revison notes

    eg: RSPB has become one of the largest and most visible UK cause groups in recent years with somewhere in excess of 1.2 million members in 2010 13. Cause groups are commonly divided into three categories: 1. Attitude cause groups- Aim to change people's attitudes on a particular issue- eg: Greenpeace seeks to change attitudes on the environment 2.

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

    An example of a successful pressure group due to expertise is the BMA; because the BMA have such specialist knowledge of the NHS and medicine then they are always consulted by the government on legislation giving them significant influence over politics.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work