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What Factors Determine the Success of a Pressure Group? Essay

Pressure groups are organisations which seek to influence the government to make or change policies or legislation. They tend not to seek political power or put candidates up for elections. Supporters suggest that there are many factors which may determine the success of pressure groups. Supporters suggest that there are many factors which may determine the success of a pressure group. Success is gauged in three main forms; demand acceptance where the group gains full success. Then there is demand compromise when the group doesn’t get the full decision they want and therefore have to “compromise” and finally there is no decision where there is a stop in the decision being made at all. A Pressure groups chances may well depend on four main variables; group aims, group resources, groups status and how they fulfil these criteria’s. Insider pressure groups such as WWF are known as core insiders as they tend to work closely with the government.

Supporters have suggested that pressure groups like the “National Farmers Union” and the “British Medical Association” have the “ear of the government” which increases their chances of success alongside their regular contact with the government. Many agree that insider groups tend to be successful due to their main stream goals and traditional methods such as letter writing, petitions and public campaigns. Pundits argue that success is based upon financial leverage. It could be argued that “The City” has a great influence due to financial leverage which can affect chancellor’s policy formulation on Taxes. (An example of this is the city opposing the idea of Tobin Tax).

The pundits also argue that political; consultants can give their expertise in terms of lobbying which will have an impact on the pressure groups success. Critics believe that outsider groups like “OUTRAGE” do not have the ear of government therefore their success comes down to their social leverage and methods. They often engage in high profile publicity stunts which attract a lot of media and exposure like when Fathers 4 Justice dressed up as spider man and climbed a bridge near tower of London which then resulted in unprecedented press coverage for the group and its campaign.

However this could be of a disadvantage to them as it may embarrass the government and threaten the group’s status and cause friction between them and the government. Critics seem to also believe that celebrity involvements in the campaign can be very important for public support as famous faces may influence the public into supporting the cause, like the American Pressure group “Rock the Vote”. Some may even suggest that the ability to work together can result in a type of success, for example Euro Groups are very loud and effective forums which have wonderful achievements. This is increasingly taken up by pressure groups who have switched their activity to the European Economic and social committee. In addition “Umbrella and Rainbow Coalition” groups have shown the ability to work with other groups this allows both groups to share ideas recourses and strengths in expertise which will increase their chances of success.

Some people feel direct action is a tactic used increasingly by “New social Movements” many say it is effective due to globalization and the use of technology. “mums net” and pressure group has taken advantage of social networking to promote their message through Face book and Twitter and have gained millions of supporters by doing so. Outsider pressure groups often use Civil disobedience that includes using violence and disobeying the law “Plane Stupid”. In conclusion the success of a pressure group depends upon the criteria for success. There are, however, certain factors which can lead to success. Of these, the most important would be the relationship with decision making bodies. Without a good relationship a pressure group is unlikely to be able to reach any meaningful success.


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