FAQ: What is a pressure group?
Posted by Matt Walker on November 29, 2009
A pressure group is an organisation which attempts to influence government policy. As their name suggests, they aim is to ‘pressure’ the government into either changing policy, or to innovate in a particular direction.
A pressure group may represent a particular section of society, such as pensioners (Help the Aged) or homeless people (Shelter). These are called interest or sectional groups. Alternatively, a pressure group might wish to influence government over a particular issue, such as the environment (Greenpeace) or health (BMA). These are known as issue or promotional groups.
In attempting to influence government policy, a pressure group must decide where to focus its attention. Are the decisions they wish to influence made by the EU, the Westminster Parliament, or one of the devolved parliaments? A successful pressure group will need to understand where and how decisions are made – doing an AS in government and politics would be a good start!