FAQ: What are the functions of pressure groups?
Posted by Matt Walker on November 30, 2009
The difficulty of studying a political system is that you sometimes cannot fully understand its component parts until you’ve studied the whole. A good example of this was when we studied Democracy and Political Participation. One method of participation and being represented, we said, was being a member of a pressure group.
This is an important function of pressure groups. They represent different groups in society or people’s views over a particular issue. These ideas get transmitted to government, in the hope that decisions will be made which take account of the public’s view. Government can benefit from this by learning, if it chooses, to listen to what pressure groups have to say. And the public too may learn something from what pressure groups have to tell them. Just think how well educated most people are regarding the environment, which must have something to do with groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Another important function of pressure groups is that they provide a means for the public to participate and have their voice listened to. It also provides them with the opportunity to let off steam over particular issues, which in turn perhaps helps the political system to handle conflict peacefully.
Would you rather join a pressure group or a political party? Why?