What Are Pressure Groups?

Pressure Groups are organised groups of people who come together, usually outside of the government, with a common cause with the intention of influencing government policy and/or public opinion. They are a key part of modern democracies. Some examples include Greenpeace, BMA (British Medical Association), CBI (Confederation of British Industry), the National Trust, and groups like the RSPCA.

Functions of Pressure Groups


They often use the media to educate people/spread propaganda, websites are also important, they seek to pass comment on government policy, which goes to the media and websites.
Expert authority - often bring in experts, scientists, analysts, etc to raise their cases
Can involve celebrities as well to make their cases more public
However: Very one sided, listening to only one side of the argument.
Policy Formulation

They give the government ideas, information, advice.
Governments are generalist so they listen to the advice given to them
Don't always get exactly what they want but still useful
Policy network - NGOs, govt, lobbyists, academics, sometimes leading journalists.
None of these have been elected, insider groups, etc. not very democratic
They don't have to listen but they would be wise to in many cases as big groups like CBI, BMA, farmers union, have a lot of influence with many members
Policy Implementation

How the policy is actually implemented
National Farmers Union working with DEFRA. DEFRA carry it out. Farm subsidies, animal welfare, etc. Some of them have a lot of leverage.
Problem is some groups are too close to the government. Other groups could complain that it's unfair.
Disadvantages of Pressure Groups

They are not democratic, not elected.
Push their own views onto the public, and of course we can't always trust them to be truthful
Accountability is often lacking within the group, not always democratic
Just because they are big groups it doesn't mean they...