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Pressure groups Lecture 1 Dr Justin Greaves. What is a pressure group? ‘A pressure group is an organization which seeks as one of its functions to influence.

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Presentation on theme: "Pressure groups Lecture 1 Dr Justin Greaves. What is a pressure group? ‘A pressure group is an organization which seeks as one of its functions to influence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pressure groups Lecture 1 Dr Justin Greaves

2 What is a pressure group? ‘A pressure group is an organization which seeks as one of its functions to influence the formulation and implementation of public policy’ (Grant 2000)

3 OR: ‘The field of organized groups possessing both formal structure and real common interests in so far as they influence the decisions of public bodies’ (W J M Mackenzie)

4 Changing times But are such definitions out of date? Some group activity now directed at private companies (see Grant and Greaves, 2005) State has shed some of its functions, with public tasks being carried out by private providers EG: ‘retailer governance’

5 Targeting Tesco Tescopoly is a coalition of eight environmental, women's, workers' and third world organisations Groups include Friends of the Earth, the GMB union and War on Want

6 The campaign uses the slogan 'Every little hurts' in a play on the Tesco slogan 'Every little helps'

7 Differ from parties Party wants to win control of government or at least a share of office to implement policies Parties are broad coalitions that have to aggregate interests, groups often single issue Parties run candidates in elections, but note ‘interest parties’

8 Social movements Difficult to define – used in a vague way In contrast to Mackenzie’s definition may not have a formal structure and are usually united by ideas not interests

9 Klandermans (1997) ‘Social movements...are populated by individuals sharing collective goals and a collective identity who engage in disruptive action’

10 Jordan (1998) ‘There is a tendency to relabel any group using non-conventional strategies and tactics as social movements’

11 But distinction important Literature important as reminds us pressure groups are only one way of bringing about change Feminism one of the important social movements (impact on changing consciousness, family level, still few women legislators) Many of its goals require political action Pressure groups spring from it

12 Social movements: a summary Literature in sociology Represent people with an outsider orientation Seek to change elements in the existing power structure Often use direct action methods Opposed to conventional power politics

13 Social movements: summary (2) Do not want to influence state, want to act in civil society Loosely defined organisational structure Either lack clearly defined leadership or have charismatic leader Often left of centre, lifestyle politics, but note petrol protests

14 Recent literature ‘The new social movement literature has little space for reform-oriented single issue pressure groups which merely seek to change their bit of the world, and are reasonably comfortable with the state of society and politics as they find them – surely the operating rationale of so many voluntary organisations?’ (McKay and Hilton, 2009)

15 Think tanks Grant’s definition encompasses think tanks even though they do not engage in lobbying May have a close relationship with a political party, e.g. Fabian Society Can be influential (e.g. IEA and Thatcherism, Adam Smith Institute and the poll tax)

16 Think tanks (2) Demos has been proving influential Here is a short video clip showing their engagement with politicians and others video clip

17 Think tanks (3) Think tanks seek to change the intellectual climate of opinion Stone (1996) argued that the distinction between think tanks and interest groups has become blurred She argues their impact is modest. ‘Policy making is mainly driven by interests, not by ideas’

18 Changing terminology A search for ‘hurrah words’ to describe pressure or interest groups Stakeholders – used by government and EU Non-governmental organisations (originated with UN) Campaigning groups Advocacy groups

19 Your projects Here is some advice which should come in helpful for your pressure group projects

20 What’s in a name? We don’t want to restrict your choice of group You can study UK, American, EU or home country organisation – but need understanding You can study direct action groups Key consideration is feasibility – is there enough material? Step 1: check out web site

21 Four criteria for a good website 1.Useful 2.Usable 3.Accessible for all 4.Sticky (*makes people want to come back)

22 Web site design Does it download reasonably quickly? Is the site design coherent? Is it uncluttered? Is the meaning of categories clear? Can you find what you want quickly and easily? (easy to navigate) How would the site appear to someone wanting to get involved?

23 Web site content (1) Can you join on line or download a membership form? Can you find out how to get involved in campaigns? Are illustrations relevant and appealing? Podcasts or videos? Has it been updated recently?

24 Web site content (2) Does it provide information: 1.About group 2.The history of group 3.Methods it uses 4.Its successes 5.Contact details for more info

25 Balance of question Approximate division between two parts of question is one third/two thirds Assessment of group effectiveness is core of second part of question You will be given credit for examining methodological problems of assessing effectiveness

26 Further advice Make sure you answer all parts of the question (especially all three parts on the website). For the first part a comparison with another website can be a good idea. Please ensure you look at ‘Pressure Groups and British Politics’, Chapter 10. (available online)

27 Before we continue, a quite moving and inspirational video-clip on Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International

28 Types of pressure groups There are many ways of categorising pressure groups

29 Causal/sectional groups Sectional groups represent a section of the community (e.g. trade unions, CBI etc) Cause groups represent a belief or principle (e.g. Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International)

30 Insider/outsider typology Developed by Grant (1978) Insider/outsider groups cuts across traditional sectional/cause distinction Insider groups recognised as legitimate by government But had to abide by rules of the political game which imposed constraints

31 Outsider groups A more disparate category Include ‘would be’ insider groups, outsider groups by necessity Ideological or protest groups who do not want to be drawn into embrace of government Implication of typology that insider groups more likely to succeed – but not always

32 Aberdeen group Work of Jordan, McLaughlin and Maloney (94) Political price for entry not as high as typology suggests Large number of groups consulted

33 Aberdeen Group modify typology Core insiders dealing with a broad range of issues Specialist insiders in policy niches Peripheral insiders, little influence

34 Easy to become an insider Reinforced by work of Page (98) – insiders outnumber pure outsiders by nine to one Not that hard to be placed on a consultation list. Blair Govt. has consultation code Internet lowers costs of formation, mobilisation and involvement Being involved in consultation is not same as real access to policy makers

35 Pursuing both strategies One can pursue both strategies simultaneously – Greenpeace But does set up tensions within a group, Greenpeace very hierarchical and hence can control them In some areas now insider and outsider groups – National Farmers Union and Farmers for Action

36 Most important criticism Nature of society and political process has changed Far more groups representing a more fragmented society Outsider groups becoming more successful, hence undermining one of key points of distinction Growth of direct action

37 Next week More on insiders/outsiders Pressure groups and the internet Direct action strategies


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