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

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Introduction

´╗┐To what extent have pressure groups changed in recent years? A pressure group is an organised group that seeks to influence government policy, public opinions or protect or advance a particular cause or interest. Groups may promote a specific issue and raise it up the political agenda, represent a particular section in society or they may have more general political and ideological objectives in mind when they campaign. In this essay I am going to analyse the significant changes in the nature and activities of pressure groups that have occurred in recent years and use examples accordingly. In recent times, the importance of the role of pressure groups has been increasing and is likely to continue to do so. A reason for this is the increasing participation in pressure group politics. Membership of pressure groups has been growing substantially whereas in contrast, membership of political parties has been declining. Therefore, this suggests that the general interest in politics has not decreased but the nature of interest and participation is rapidly changing as more people are becoming frustrated with the political parties and so they are turning to pressure groups that campaign for specific issues or causes. ...read more.

Middle

All these groups aim to influence the institutions by taking positions and promoting their respective issues and interests. The activities of pressure groups has also changed along with everything else happening around them. Many groups now feel that they not excluded from having direct access to the attention of policy and decision makers. It used to be the case that only insider pressure groups had this luxury of being able to communicate effectively with government institutions as they were generally felt to be more responsible in their demands and also they had developed long-term links with certain political parties and Parliament. However, many pressure groups believe that they can start to exert more pressure on government by mobilising public opinion than by pursuing direct inks with decision makers. For example, the Countryside Alliance has found that direct action can be far more beneficial in comparison to being listened to by Parliament. In this case, it is not all the members of the group but a select minority, this is not to say that it is not a substantial amount. These individuals that have formed to use direct action instead of government links are called the Countryside Action Network. They remain members of the original Alliance but describe it as being ineffective and inefficient. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many people feel that pressure groups therefore are a credit to democracy as they allow for causes and issues to be recognised and particularly vulnerable sections of society to be represented in a meaningful manner. The increasing amount of access point is also a significant reason the change seen in pressure groups. Groups now have many ore access point to the decision-making institutions than ever before. Now they can spread their efforts, time, money and other resources around much more to exert more pressure on decision-makers and to be influential to as much of the public as possible when it comes to specific issues. Different methods used by pressure groups has also seen great change. Increases in the use of direct action and the rise in digital democracy effectively contribute to the willingness of people to take positive action in pursuit of a cause in which they feel passionate about. As representative institutions-especially parties and Parliament-have become increasingly marginalised and impotent, there has been a renewed interest in the influence of direct action. In addition, the changes in the world surrounding pressure groups has forced them to respond by using technological advances to great effect in order to get many people involved and even introduce political ideas to individuals new to the political scene. ...read more.

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