Pressure Groups

Pressure groups play a key role in the political system. They tend to campaign on a specific topic or issue, rather than campaigning to take power.

Traditionally, the study of pressure groups (also known as interest groups) as examined protectional pressure groups (e.g. those set up to protect children and animals) and promotional pressure groups (e.g. Fathers-4-Justice promoting the rights of fathers). In 2000, Wyn Grant made a further distinction between insider and outsider pressure groups. Whether a pressure group is an ‘inside’ group or ‘outside’ group affects the potential impact it has. Insider pressure groups are invited to liaise with the government on policy issues and give expert advice whereas outsider pressure groups are, as the name suggests, outside of the political sphere in this way. Therefore, there are power relationships at play.

Students could be tasked with identifying two examples of promotional pressure groups and two examples of protectional pressure groups. For each group, they should summarise, in their own words, what the aim of the group is and, from wider reading, decide whether they think this is an ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ pressure group.

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