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FAQ: What are the functions of pressure groups?

Posted by Matt Walker on November 30, 2009

Friends of the Earth 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?


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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!

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Advertising Ban?

Posted by Matt Walker on September 9, 2009

image This week, my AS group discussed the meaning of the term ‘politics’. We found that politics was essentially the process by which competing interests and ideas are resolved, and looked at a range of examples.

Channel 4 news yesterday reported that the BMA are calling for a ban on alcohol advertising. The BMA is a pressure group which promotes the needs of  health professionals, as well as bringing to light important medical issues. In calling for such a ban, the BMA has come into conflict with the alcohol industry, which claims that it is socially responsible and happy to co-operate with government on this issue.

How will parliament and government resolve this issue? This is something to look out for in the future.

Click on the image to view the Channel 4 News video.

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