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The Importance of Pressure Groups

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Submitted By jdan4938
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Some people think that pressure groups have become more important, this is due to new emergent forms of communication and advances in media coverage, also because of the rise in the number of members to groups such as the The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has over 1 million members. This is in contrast to political parties whose membership has fallen in recent decades, at the end of 2011, Labour had 193,300 members compared to reported Conservative Party membership of between 130,000 and 170,000.

Pressure have become more important in recent years because of the emergence in 24 hour mass media. Due to the nature of the news stories being about visualised and having a broad appeal it has allowed smaller pressure groups to promote their cause, however it has allowed groups who use methods such as direct action to become more significant, such as Fathers 4 Justice, this can make pressure groups who use these methods be seen as not as important as they are not helping aid political discussion by acting in this unconventional way.

There is the argument that pressure groups have risen in importance due to the use of direct action in their campaigns, it is often used when a group wants to gain maximum publicity. Improved levels of education have led to a greater public concern over issues such as the environment and world poverty and increased public willingness to participate in different forms of direct action related to those issues. Some 'radical' pressure groups have come to favour methods of direct action over more traditional methods that they feel are likely to be ineffective. An example would be the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) using radical methods such as in January 2009, where they vandalised a councillor's car with acid because she was said to have supported the proposed bill of being able to go shooting on a nearby moor. However, direct action can have negative consequences which gave the press an opportunity to condemn the pressure group. Direct action does gain a lot of publicity for the pressure groups, making the public and the government more aware of them and helping to increase their support, however, the government don't necessarily always listen.

Advances in technology is also a hugely significant factor in why pressure groups have experienced change in recent years. Pressure groups can accordingly develop their methods and strategies to help them benefit as much as possible by using technological advancements such as the internet. For example the group UK Uncut who campaigned against spending cuts and tax avoidance relied on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to mobilise a large number of people quickly.

Pressure groups now rely heavily on the internet for publicity, gaining support and placing pressure on decision makers. The internet also provides ways to initiate and organise political protests and campaigns quickly and efficiently. This has made them more important by allowing people to more able to express their opinions and by the internet can be used to gain more members so they are able to increase their influence and importance.

It could be argued that pressure have not become more important in recent years because due to the internet and media people can become over exposed to many different pressure groups promoting themselves so they find it hard to focus on which pressure groups to listen to. !

The fact that pressure groups only what to gain influence by means of rallying people via the internet, they are less important because they do not have the power to directly change policy, and can be be dismissed by governments.

Also are not that important because unless a pressure group is wealthy, or has a larger political influence like being an insider group, pressure groups are unsuccessful as they focus on single issues and fail to take into account things like financial concerns, and protests are unlikely to be successful for example the anti Iraq war protests in London in 2002, as many as 400,000 people attended, yet the war went ahead, showing that governments do not have to be concerned with the needs of pressure groups, showing that they have little importance.!
In conclusion, pressure groups have drastically changed in recent years in relation to their nature and their methods. Many people feel that pressure groups therefore are a credit as they allow for causes and issues to be recognised and particularly vulnerable sections of society to be represented in a meaningful manner.

The increasing amount of access point is also a significant reason the change seen in pressure groups. Groups now have many more access point to the decision-making institutions than ever before. Now they can spread their efforts, time, money and other resources around much more to exert more pressure on decision-makers and to be influential to as much of the public as possible when it comes to specific issues. Different methods used by pressure groups has also seen great change. Increases in the use of direct action and the rise in digital democracy effectively contribute to the willingness of people to take positive action in pursuit of a cause in which they feel passionate about.…...

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