• 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...

Introduction

'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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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. 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

  1. In What Ways Do Pressure Groups Influence The Government? Consequently, Do Pressure Groups Strengthen ...

    There are a number of factors, which determine how effective a pressure group is; Size of Membership; Financial Resources; Public Support; Prestige of the pressure group; Strength of Opposition; Government Support and the Organisation of the group. As a result of these factors, there is such a variation in the amount of power each group can exert onto influential establishments.

  2. Are pressure groups good or bad for democracy?

    A good example of such group is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents whose members, very experienced casualty doctors, and helped to draw up legislation requiring compulsory wearing of seat-belts.

  1. Democratic features of pressure groups

    Informing the government Pressure groups can make governments aware of public views not shared in political circles. They can also generate new ideas, and devise programmes of reform, which professional politicians do not have the time to develop. However, one of the most important functions of a pressure group

  2. Assess the contribution of interest groups to democratic government

    This is the view that only the larger and more established groups such as the Chamber of Commerce in the USA or the Confederation of British Industry in the UK can actually gain access to government, and the fact that only a minority of groups are well funded and well established means that the system is biased against smaller groups.

  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 have pressure groups in the UK changed in recent years?

    But policy-making in modern day Britain has completely evolved as it has become spread over a much wider range of institutions such as the European Union. The growing influence and jurisdiction of the European Union is perhaps the most obvious example of the increasing amount of access points available to pressure groups.

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