Pressure groups are often made up of individuals who join their voices and resources to achieve a primary aim. Their objective is often only achievable through influencing the government. These individuals often leverage and lobby political parties to convince them to meet their demands. These groups usually successfully press the government because of their diverse expertise. Their members can be professionals, agricultural, economic, social, religious or educational.
Professional Pressure Group
Professional groups are often made up of a small number of professionals. These individuals are often successful because of their expertise and connection to political officers. Their pressure campaigns work through direct influence and the provision of valuable information to the government. Legal associations are good examples as they often have the knowledge to suggest rational and necessary legal amendments to laws.
Agricultural Pressure Group
Farmers are a specific group of society that often face the same problems nationwide. Some of these groups in countries like the U.K. represent over 90% of the farmers. They band together to influence lawmakers to provide better environments for them to farm. Since agriculture is required to make a country food-secure, lawmakers consider their demands to prevent farmers from striking.
Economic Pressure Groups
Individuals usually join economic pressure groups as a way of protecting their specific financial interests of theirs. They bring their voices together to influence government policies. These individuals often control significant resources, so their combined voices can influence government policy.
Religious Pressure Groups
Many religious persons often seek to form a pressure group to maintain their safety and religious rights. This pressure group aims to have its spiritual practices validated through laws. In numbers, they can protect their religious interest by influencing government policies. Individually, religious persons may ace persecution if the rules of a country do not uphold their right to assemble.
Social Pressure Groups
A social group often serves society by advocating for change in social policy. These interests are often wide-reaching across the community, with the most vulnerable groups protected. Lawmakers can sometimes overlook the needs of the less fortunate; therefore, there is a need for social grants and schemes to cover them. The less powerful members of society can find themselves voiceless.
Educational Pressure Group
Academic institutions can also come together to form pressure groups. These educational groups bring their voices together to promote and protect scholarly interests. These educational groups protect knowledge, students and staff. They harbour a significant amount of influence because of the knowledge and expertise they produce.
Functions of Pressure Groups
- Pressure groups help lobby for change in government policies or decisions.
- Pressure groups serve to provide checks and balances on government activity and policy.
- Pressure groups band together to protect the rights and interests of their members.
- Pressure groups serve to improve economic fundamentals within their area of the country. They work together to help government realize and promote specific economic interests.
- Pressure groups can serve to protect and entrench democratic activities. These groups are built on the right to free speech.
Methods Used by Pressure Groups
Senior lawmakers are often accessible through lobbying. Pressure groups can directly contact state officials to present their case for any potential amendments to the law. These persuasive arguments are often presented with data to strengthen their case. If convinced, the lawmaker can bring the motion to the lawmaking chamber. It requires connections to senior politicians in a position of authority over a policy they are interested in.
Mass demonstrations are an excellent way to raise concern over a pertinent societal issue. These demonstrations vary in the way they are executed. They can be peaceful or violent and often draw media attention. These events are often uncomfortable for society, forcing the government to take action to prevent the further demonstration. The groups typically organize themselves in strategic locations with their members to inconvenience the surrounding communities.
Pressure groups can use the mass media like the press, radio, television, bulletins and handbills to persuade those in authority to accede to their demands. Using hyperbole and excessive misinformation, these groups can drum up support from the general public.
Why Pressure Groups Fail
Lack of resources
A pressure group needs to raise sufficient finances to carry out its activities. Funding is necessary to carry out their objectives, so wealthier groups are more successful at influencing policy.
A transparent chain of command helps get instructions across clearly. Many pressure groups will often fall apart if their members lack respect for their leaders and the constituted authority.
A government that creates policies based on religious beliefs can become intolerant of diverse views. Free speech and freedom of association often clash with government intolerance of group activities.
When government takes a defiant stand against a pressure group, there is a chance it may fail. This type of infiltration is executed when the group opposes the government’s actions for moral or economic reasons. This can lead to the arrest and detention of the top officials within the pressure group.
Pressure Group vs Political Parties
- Pressure groups can only influence government policies, whilst political parties seek control over political power.
- Pressure groups have specific interests related to their members; however, political parties have wide-reaching interests.
- Pressure groups are joined based on similar interests and status; however, political parties accept anyone from the public.
- Political parties have constitutions and manifestoes, whilst documents do not guide pressure groups.
- Political parties select their top officials through elections or congress activities. Pressure groups choose their leaders based on expertise and qualifications.
- Political parties are transparent in their activities to promote participation, whilst pressure groups do not have to publish their meetings and activities.