What is Pressure/Interest Group?

Types , Functions and Differences of  Pressure/Interest Group?

Meaning of Pressure/Interest Group

"a group that tries to influence public policy in the interest of a particular cause." An interest group that endeavours 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., 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."

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

Pressure Groups: Nature and Functions

Prof. S. Finer has characterised these groups as 'anonymous empires'.' In contrast, Richard D. Lambert believes that these are unofficial governments, which implies that no government can run without considering their views.

These groups influence public policy and administration and go a long way in determining the political structure of the society and the form of government. In India, Prof. Rajni Kothari has made a significant study of the working and organisation of these groups. Pressure groups are concerned primarily with specific issues and thus may not field their candidates at the time of elections. But those who have some common interests come together and try to change the course of public affairs.


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 in solving their own problems. A pressure group, body, organised or unorganised, 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.

An interest group, also called a particular interest group or pressure group, is an association of individuals or organisations, usually formally organised, that, based on 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 helps 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 organised groups that 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 that exerts pressure on the government or the decision-makers to fulfil their interests.

If taken in this sense, any social group that seeks to influence any political office's administrative and legislative behaviour without attempting to gain formal government control can be called a pressure group.


5 Characteristics of Pressure Groups

Pressures groups are characterised by the following elements.

1. Strictly structure

2. Pressure focus.

3. Protective and Promotive

4. Harsher in attitude.

5. Must influence the government.

Besides, They influence policy-making for their own specific interests. Pressure Groups are related to some particular 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 mechanisms, including appeals, petitions, demonstrations, picketing, lobbying, and processions. They also write in the media, distribute pamphlets, issue press releases, organise discussions and debates, and put up posters and chant slogans.


Types of Pressure/Interest Groups

A non-profit and usually voluntary organisation 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 contributions to political parties, working to elect sympathetic or pliable politicians, and conducting covert or open propaganda campaigns. The significant 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 more prominent or leading group to focus on a very narrow area of interest.


Functions of Pressure/Interest Groups

1. Links government to the people: One of the functions of pressure groups is to link 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 policy or not. Pressure groups take the issue to the people through their activities and can communicate back to the government what the people's views are.

2. Promotes participation in government: Another function of pressure groups is to engender public participation in the activities of the government of the day. Some pressure groups engage in demonstrations and other measures to put their views across to the government. Therefore, the actions of pressure groups promote political participation and carry 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 ensure 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 underprivileged, 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 pressure the government to implement policies that inure to the benefit of its members. If not putting pressure on the government to influence its policy, it is putting pressure on the government to change a policy direction or withdraw entirely from a particular approach that does not favour its members.


Difference between Political Parties & Pressure Groups

Pressure groups :

1. Pressure groups have specific interests and work for the collective interests of their members only.

2. Membership of pressure groups is limited.

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

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

5. Pressure groups do not contest elections.

Political parties :

1. While political parties have a broad-based programme that covers many aspects of national life, influence and coerces the government.

2. Membership of the parties is very broad-based, and it is a broad 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 recognised part of the political system competing for power.

5. Political parties contest in elections and want to establish a 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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