Definition , Types, Nature & Functions of Pressure Groups, Differences between Political Parties vs Pressure Groups

Definition , Types, Nature & Functions of Pressure Groups, Differences between Political Parties vs Pressure Groups

Pressure Group


“a group that tries to influence public policy in the interest of a particular cause.” An interest group that endeavors to influence public policy and especially governmental legislation, regarding its particular concerns and priorities or  a group of people who seek 
to exert pressure on legislators, public opinion, etc,in order to promote their own ideas or welfare “A pressure group can be defined as a group of people, who come together with the sole aim of influencing government policies and laws in their favour.”


Simple Definition of pressure group. : a group of people who share an interest, concern, or set of opinions and who try to influence politics or the policies of government, business, etc.
Today there is no country in the world which is free from pressure groups.These groups try to influence and pressurise every political institution to serve their own interests and to ensure that at least in no case their interests suffer, if at all these are not promoted.


Prof. S. Finer has characterised these groups as ‘anonymous empire’ whereas Richard D. Lambert is of the view that these are unofficial government, which implies that no government can run without taking their view point into consideration.


These groups influence both public policy as well as administration and go a long way in determining political structure of the society and the form of government. In India Prof. Rajni Kothari has made a significant study of working and organisation of these groups.
Pressure groups are concerned primarily with certain issues and thus may not field their candidates at the time of elections. But those who have some common interest come together and try to change the course of public affairs.
If taken in this sense any social group which seeks to influence the behaviour of any political officer, both administrative as well as legislative, without attempting to gain formal control of the government can be called a pressure group.


It exerts persuasive powers to get certain political decisions in its favour. These groups have no public but only private interests and also these are organised groups of people who have some common interests for solving their own problems.
Pressure group, body, organized or unorganized, that actively seeks to promote its particular interests within a society by exerting pressure on public officials and agencies. Pressure groups direct their efforts toward influencing legislative and executive branches of government, political parties, and sometimes general public opinion.


Interest group, also called special interest group or pressure group, any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes. Their goal could be a policy that exclusively benefits group members or one segment of society (e.g., government subsidies for farmers) or a policy that advances a broader public purpose (e.g., improving air quality).  


Pressure Groups are organized groups which influence politics through direct or indirect means They have specific interests in mind e.g. Trade Unions , FBI. A pressure group is an interest group which exerts pressure on the government or the decision-makers for the fulfillment of their interests.





Pressures groups are characterized by

1.Strictly structure

2. Pressure focus.

3. Protective ,Promotive

4. Harsher in attitude.

5. Must influence the government.

Besides, They influence the policy making for their own specific interests. Pressure Groups are related to some specific areas like professional activities. They indirectly participate in political activities. They do not participate in the struggle to capture political power. Hence they do not take part in elections. But they influence the political power to a great extent and that is why they are termed as ‘Anonymous Empire’
They adopt various mechanism which include appeals, petitions, demonstrations, picketing, lobbying, and processions. They also write in the media, distribute pamphlets, issue press releases, organize discussions and debates, put up posters chant slogans.

Types of Interest Groups


Non-profit and usually voluntary organization whose members have a common cause for which they seek to influence public policy, without seeking political control. Their primary activities are lobbying the members of legislative bodies through contribution to political parties, working to elect sympathetic or pliable politicians, and conducting covert or open propaganda campaigns.


The major types of interest groups are :

(1) Economic association or Associative : such as chambers of commerce, trade unions, religious bodies,

(2) Professional association or Institutional : such as that of architects, doctors, lawyers,

(3) Public interest group (PIG) or Spontaneous : such as 'Friends Of environment' who aim to benefit people beyond their membership, and

(4) Special interest group (SIG) or Non-associative : a sub-groups formed within the framework of a larger or main group to focus on a very narrow area of interest.



Functions of Pressure Groups

1.Links government to the people:

One of the functions of pressure groups is that it serves as a link between the government of the day and the people it governs. There are times when the government of the day wants to introduce a policy but does not know whether the people will accept the policies or not. Pressure groups take the issue to the people through their activities and is able to communicate back to government what the views of the people are.
2.Promotes participate in government :

Another function of pressure groups is to engender public participation in the activities of government of the day. Some pressure groups engage in demonstrations and other measures to put their views across to the government. The activities of pressure groups therefore, promote political participation and carries the citizenry along.
3.Source of information to government :

Another function of pressure groups is as a source of information to the government. As the pressure groups lobby government on various fronts, the interaction offers the government valuable information on aspects of issues they may not even be aware of.
4.Checks dictatorship :

Also, the activities of pressure groups ensures that governments do not perpetuate themselves in power thereby drifting into a dictatorship. 
5.Promote the interest of the minority :

Again, pressure groups champion the rights of the under-privileged, especially promotional pressure groups. As they go about their activities, they ensure that the interests of minority groups are not trampled upon by the government. Thus, pressure groups act as watchdogs on the government.
6.Influencing legislation :

Another function of pressure groups is to put pressure on government so that it can implement policies that inure to the benefit of its members. If not putting pressure on government to influence its policy, it is putting pressure on government to change a policy direction or to withdraw entirely a particular policy that does not favour their members.




Difference between Political Parties & Pressure Groups

Pressure groups :
1. Pressure groups have specific interest and work for the collective interests of its membership only.

2. Membership of pressure groups is limited.

3. Pressure groups resort to agitation a politics like marches, demonstrations, strikes, fasts.

4. Pressure groups are informal, often secretive, conceited and conspiratorial and sometimes even unrecognized entities.

5.Pressure groups do not contest election.


Political parties :
1. While political parties have a broad based programme that covers many aspects of national life influence and coerce the government.

2. Membership of the parties is very broad based and it is a wide coalition of diverse members and they have mass memberships.

3. Political parties use only Constitutional means to achieve their aims.

4. Political parties are the formal, open and recognized part of the political system competing for power.

5. Political parties contest in election and want to establish government.


Moreover :

1.Pressure groups are not primarily political in nature.

2. Pressure groups do not seek direct power;

3. Pressure groups do not contest elections; they only support political parties of their choice.

4. Pressure groups do not necessarily have political ideologies.

5. The interests of the pressure groups are usually specific and particular.


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