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

In What Ways Do Pressure Groups Influence The Government? Consequently, Do Pressure Groups Strengthen Or Weaken Democracy?

Extracts from this document...


In What Ways Do Pressure Groups Influence The Government? Consequently, Do Pressure Groups Strengthen Or Weaken Democracy? Britain is often referred to as a homogenous society as the public tend to share similar political views. However, more recently, there has been a decline in membership to political parties and an increase in the membership of pressure groups. In this essay I will define pressure groups, information surrounding such as the amount of power they have and how effectively they can influence institutions of power. A pressure group is an organised group which has as one of its principal purposes the exercise of influence on institutions (mainly political) in order to secure decisions favourable to the interests the group represents or to discourage decisions from being taken which would be unfavourable to those interests. Pressure groups also are slightly more complex and have many different forms, statuses (within society) and amount of influence. Pressure groups are divided into the following sub-groups: Causal (or promotional) groups, Sectional (or Protection) groups and also how close they are to the government known as either Insider or Outsider groups. Causal groups are involved with a particular issue or issues and serve this cause by promoting it. These groups vary in size and aims and can be permanent (such as friends of the earth) ...read more.


These methods vary from insider to outsider groups. Insider groups use the following methods: Sponsorship of MP's (see below); make direct links with ministers; participate and testify in official committees; represent their group on quango's; influence parliamentary standing committees to amend legislation. Insider groups typically seek influence in the first 2 institutions of access, as they are able to do this. These two are also the most effective pressure points of the seven. Outsider groups use the following methods: public demonstration; petitions; campaigns of civil disobedience; media campaigns; illegal activities to achieve publicity. Outsider groups typically use the more 'illegitimate' methods of influence, as this is the only way to gain public support and therefore more power. It also depends on the institution they are pressurising. There are 7 institutions where pressure groups apply pressure to influence them. These are: The Executive and Civil Service - which is the most effective area for pressure groups to exert influence as it gives expert opinions (although biased) and they can gauge opinion, prior to publication of upcoming policies; Parliament (MP's and Lords) - by sponsoring MP's and engaging them as parliamentary consultants, involving them if they have personal interests in the group, lobbying MP's and Lords and making appearances before select committees to give evidence which is fairly influential since the televising of proceedings; The ...read more.


Pressure groups improve the accountability of decision makers to electorates if enough influence is made. Although it's undeniable that pressure groups play a vital role in British politics particularly in today's less differential society, perhaps it's not the suggested one of the pluralist model. For example, pressure groups do improve participation but in an unequal way, benefiting the powerful and organised and disadvantaging the weak and unorganised. The groups themselves may not be representative of their members as many members' views are ignored if they don't comply with the ideologies of the leaders or decision makers of that group. The methods of influence some groups use increase social discontent and political instability by intensifying social frustration and injustice felt by certain sections of the population. This can ignore the good of the whole of the community and this kind of civil disobedience can't be justified in today's democratic system. In conclusion, pressure groups can both detract from and strengthen democracy to a certain extent. Pressure groups are an essential dimension of any democracy, yet they can endanger it if sectional groups undermine the public interest or if the methods they use are corrupt or intimidating. Katy Lucas 12D Pressure Groups Essay January 2002 ...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. Are pressure groups good or bad for democracy?

    A small local pressure group in Oxfordshire called Save Radley Lakes that was formed in 2005 had around 500 participants, but there were 30-40 activists that had really made a difference. The group campaigned against RRWE NPower which announced their intention of filling some lakes in Oxfordshire with fuel ash from a power station.

  2. Democratic features of pressure groups

    But this perfect state of affairs does not exist. Some groups wield more power than their relative importance might suggest. Some sectional groups, for example, hold a particularly strategic position in society. That is, we rely on them a great deal and therefore have to take their demands into account.

  1. Compare and Contrast Pluralist and Marxist Accounts of Power in the UK and US.

    Classic pluralism tends to describe the state as a neutral broker, assessing the claims of the other power holders and working out a response accordingly. This would account for the use of focus groups, and the emphasis on making sure key parts of British society agree with the current government's policy ideas.

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

    The internet also provides easier ways to initiate and organise political campaigns quickly and efficiently. This can be done by means of social networking such as Facebook and Twitter where people can communicate and express their views on many things including politics and those that share similar views can subsequently organise events such as political marches and so on.

  1. To what extent do pressure groups promote pluralist democracy?

    This evidence therefore suggests that government listens and proves that pressure groups promote pluralist democracy. However there are arguments against pressure groups promoting pluralist democracy. New right criticism could suggest pressure groups do not promote pluralist democracy. New right criticises saying that pressure groups are the reason for a rise in taxation and public spending.

  2. Describe the influence pressure groups have on Parliament

    These include door-to-door canvassing and more favourably, large demonstrations. Greenpeace is known for its sometimes controversial demonstrations such as Arctic 30 which saw 30 members of their group jailed in Russia for protesting against oil drilling. They have also been criticised for their campaign on the Nazca Lines which saw part of the historical feature ruined by their campaigners.

  1. A Cabinet Minister once described Pressure Groups as Creatures which strangle efficient government. Discuss ...

    This makes sure that the minority groups still have their rights defended. Pressure groups also help educate members of the public. Groups such as ASH- who raised awareness of the problems of smoking and were also one of the

  2. Pressure groups revison notes

    Specific aims with specific cause 5. May appeal to all sections of the population, but are concerned with a specific/related issues 6. May be permanent, when an issue is ongoing or temporary, which would disband once they achieve their aims 7. Permanent groups include Friends of the Earth and the Viewers and Listeners Association 8.

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