A pressure group is an association that may be formal or informal, whose purpose it is to further the interests of a specific section of society or to promote a particular cause. Pressure groups normally fall under 3 classifications, sectional which represent a specific section of the public, e.g. Age UK, promotion which promotes a particular cause, e.g. Greenpeace and finally dual-function who are a combination of both sectional and promotional, e.g. Countryside Alliance. Pressure groups can also be either insider groups which means that they have a close relationship with the government and have regular consultation with them and also take part in the decision-making process, e.g. National Farmers Union, British Medical Association and
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This is because pressure groups allow people to express their interests and their concerns. For example, the Occupy Movement enabled many people to protest against the excesses of the financial world. One more function of a pressure group is that it provides a less intensive but relative opportunity for political participation. This is because the public can voice their interests without making any major commitments. For example, Taxpayers’ Alliance organise online petitions, enabling people to make their views known without such commitments.
One reason why a pressure group is different from a political party is due to the fact that pressure groups only seek to influence the government, they do not seek governmental power unlike political parties. Another difference is that pressure groups are not accountable to their members for their actions whereas political parties are. This is also means that pressure groups can undertake acts of civil disobedience whereas pressure groups cannot. Also pressure groups usually have a narrow range of issues whereas political parties adopt policies across full range of government responsibility.
Sectional pressure groups represent a specific section of society whereas promotional pressure groups promote a particular cause or issues. For example, Age UK is a sectional group so represents the interests of the elderly and Greenpeace is a promotional group as it promotes