Pressure Groups – Advantages and Disadvantages
A pressure group is an organized group, which influences government decisions socially or economically without necessarily entering into election activities for the control of government. Pressure groups attempt to reinforce or change the direction of government policy, but they do not try as it were, to be in government. They are sometimes refers to as interest group.
Advantages of Pressure Groups
The arguments in favour and advantages of pressure groups including the following:
- Some pressure groups are very altruistic and sincerely committed to social reforms.
- By encouraging wider political participation, pressure groups help to extend the liberal democratic concept of representative government.
- Pressure groups sometimes provide the only source of opposition to the united front of political parties.
- Governments which have been installed with the support of particular pressure groups are more able to control the pressure groups than any other one. For example, the British Labour government of 1964 – 1970 made the first major modern attempt to regulate strikes and control wage demands by legislation in spite of the party’s strong links with trade unions.
- Pressure groups help to represent a minority interests which may otherwise not be adequately represented in government.
Disadvantages of Pressure Groups
The arguments against pressure groups including the following:
- Many pressure groups are selfish and self-serving.
- Lobbying as a major weapon of pressure groups has been abused and is now more or less synonymous with underhand activities and secret operations. This may lead to suspicion of pressure groups activities.
- The objectives of a pressure groups are usually not submitted to its members for approval but are usually developed by paid officials who want to justify their pay.
- It is difficult for the members to control pressure groups‘ offices because their elections are not usually conducted in a democratic manner. The interest of Labour aristocrats is hardly different from those of the ruling elite.
- In presenting its proposals, a pressure group always personalizes its own interests to make them appear to be more advantageous to the entire population.
- Any attempt by a pressure group to influence the policy process or get something from government is likely to elicit a response from other groups concerned with the issue. For example, if doctors secure improved allowances form government, the other professional associations including those of nurses and pharmacists in the health sector may demand similar treatment from government. The government, then, may well have two compromise, conciliate, or at least seriously consider the competing claims lest it alienates significant sections of the society.