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Why Have Pressure Groups Become More Popular Than Political Parties?

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Introduction

Why Have Pressure Groups Become More Popular Than Political Parties? The definition of a 'Pressure Group' is; "Any organisation which - normally working through lobbying rather than standing for office - seeks to influence public policy and decisions at local, national and European or International levels usually within a particular, quite limited sphere." (Coxall, B. & Robins, L. - Contemporary British Politics) Pressure groups, particularly within Britain are a fairly new concept. Since the post-war times of 1945 onwards we have seen the continuation and expansion of these groups. Although, not in the same way that we see today. There has always been more importance placed on these groups to represent the interests of its members within society, each in their different ways. Although, many pressure groups tend to have only one issue in which they stand for, others however represent more broader. The questions that I will attempt to answer for this essay is that are pressure groups more popular than political parties, and if so, why is this? I will use a number of academic texts and other sources to try to answer this question in both a factual and informative way. Pressure groups are not a political party. Nor are they seen by many, for example, the Government, the media and the public, as being so. ...read more.

Middle

For example, the pressure groups which represent big businesses have more money to fund their groups, therefore they have more power than that, say, of the trade unions, so this is not as equal as it was first made out to be. The Neo-Pluralist theory also looks for changes to the system, that way ensuring that everyone has an equal access to the system. This concept is seen by many as just a development of the Pluralist theory. Thirdly, there is the Corporatist Model which does not really fit into the British system nowadays. Pressure groups have stable links and/or relationships with the governments and in return, its members support government policies. This was apparent in Britain in the 1960's and 1970's, but it is not really seen today. This theory is more associated with other countries, for example Scandinavia etc. There are disadvantages with this theory, namely the lack of accountability. It is very beaurocratic and it shows economic inefficiency. The fourth and final theory on pressure groups that I am interested in is the New Right Theory. This theory, rather different from the previous three, is very hostile towards pressure groups. It regards them as narrow, self-interested groups. Followers of this viewpoint argue that pressure groups are not representative of society, as they are non elected. ...read more.

Conclusion

Public support for the political parties is a vicious circle, and government ministers, at times, must feel that they 'cannot do right for doing wrong'. There is always someone criticising what they do, or don't do, and it must be impossible to keep everyone happy. This possibly explains why pressure groups have, in some ways more popularity with ordinary members of the public. Voters want the government to be seen to do something to help them, and although pressure groups are usually only focused on one particular interest, at least they are seen by the public, through the media interpretation, as doing something, and there have been known specific cases where the work of pressure groups has eventually paid off, and government legislation has been changed, when the plights of some groups have been brought to their attention. Maybe it is because pressure group members are, in the main, just seen as ordinary people, like you and me, and not 'jumped up aristocrats with big ideas'. Maybe, this is the reason why pressure groups have increased their popularity over the years, and more and more people are willing to listen to what it is they are actually saying. All of this aside however, the media does play, I feel, the biggest part in increasing popularity of these groups, and if this were to ever stop, then I don't think that pressure groups would be seen as so productive or important by the ordinary person on the street. ...read more.

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