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Pressure groups Lecture 1. What do we mean by a p/group?  ‘The field of organized groups possessing both formal structure and real common interests in.

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Presentation on theme: "Pressure groups Lecture 1. What do we mean by a p/group?  ‘The field of organized groups possessing both formal structure and real common interests in."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pressure groups Lecture 1

2 What do we mean by a p/group?  ‘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)  Social movements may not have a formal structure and are usually united by ideas not interests

3 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 oftens single issue  Parties run candidates in elections, but note ‘interest parties’

4 Social movements approach (1)  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

5 Social movements approach (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

6 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

7 What’s in a name?  We don’t want to restrict your choice of group  You can study international organisations  You can study direct action groups  Key consideration is feasibility – is there enough material  Step 1: check out web site

8 Web site design (1)  Does it download reasonably quickly?  Is the site design coherent?  Is it uncluttered?  Is the meaning of categories clear  Can you fond what you want quickly and easily?  How would the site appear to someone wanting to get involved?

9 Web site design (2)  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

10 PGs and democracy – in favour  Additional route for political participation  Allow diversity of views to be expressed in way that is more fine grained than parties – more important as society becomes more diverse  Allow intensity of opinions to be expressed

11 PGs and democracy – in favour (2)  Provide information to government about public concerns  Provide expertise not easily available to government or only at disproportionate cost  Consistent with basic democratic norm of freedom of association

12 PGs and democracy - against  Who do they represent? Often lack internal democracy  Membership often passive, join for selective benefits  Fragment political process, only interested in own demands  Over represent education and affluent, increase political exclusion

13 How can we categorise pressure groups?  Insider/outsider groups cuts across traditional sectional/cause distinction arguing that was helpful but insufficient  Insider groups recognised as legitimate by government  But had to abide by rules of the political game which imposed constraints

14 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

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

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

17 Easy to become an insider  Insider groups number outsiders by 9:1  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

18 Most important criticism  Nature of politics has changed, leading to changes in nature of pressure group activity  Outsider groups becoming more successful, hence undermining one of key points of distinction

19 Growth of direct action  Growing dissatisfaction with results of conventional politics  More fragmented society makes identity politics more important  Technology aids mobilisation: internet and mobile phone  Imitation effects

20 Recent literature (1)  Baggott, Speaking for Patients and Carers 2005  Depts. becoming more accessible  Using restrained language still important – no emotion  Dept. of Health disliked confrontational groups  One group excluded for causing trouble

21 Recent literature (2)  Ministers worked more closely with groups that shared aims  Groups that had insider status more likely to report example of influence  Not hard to gain insider status, but core status crucial  Govt. able to manipulate and control groups, offer small concessions in return for compliance

22 Recent literature (3)  Anne Binderkrantz, ‘Interest Group Strategies’, Political Studies, Decemb 2005, 53 (4),  Uses Danish evidence and multiple regression to distinguish four types of strategy  Groups utilise a wide repertoire of tactics and strategies


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