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Us Pressure Groups Notes

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PRESSURE GROUPS Pressure group - an organised interest group in which members hold similar beliefs and actively aim to influence government

Functions (ways in which they promote democracy) Representation Citizens have their views represented within government and their grievances articulated - provide a link between society and politicians, the governed and the government.

Due to broad coalitions and 'umbrella parties' with their diverse viewpoints - many smaller issues are not voiced within government - eg. National Right to Life support a pro-life agenda when the current Democrat government promote a pro-choice ideology (representing over 7 million members)

Represent minority groups within society - eg. National Council for La Raza represents over 3.5 million Hispanic members and growing rapidly, NAACP ensures rights of all citizens regardless of race

Participation Increase the opportunities for citizens to participate in the decision making process in between elections - pressure groups have extortionate membership levels due to the active nature of many Americans

On average, an American is a member of at least 3 pressure groups - eg. AARP represents 40 million elderly people

Opportunity to participate in a specific policy area, rather than supporting a large party - eg. The Sierra Club focuses entirely on policies to reverse global warming and transfer to a clean energy economy

Education and Promotion Pressure groups push policies up the political agenda - giving priority to their members' interests by influencing the agenda of parties, legislators and bureaucrats

Keep in touch with public opinion and ensuring responsiveness to popular pressure - eg. NRA publishes voting records to inform the government and the public of voting patterns on particular topics

Enhancing public education - huge sums of money spent on advertising and promotion in order to educate and inform citizens on particular issues, warning people of the possible dangers if issues are not addressed as well as the likely effects of government decisions

Eg. AIPAC works with churches and synagogues to promote an American alliance with Israel, as well as visiting schools and colleges to inform and empower young activists

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