Pressure Group Types

Pressure Group Types

Sectional Interest Groups:

  • Also known as economic interest groups.
  • These represent a specific section of society such as a trade union or professional association.
  • Prominent examples include the American Medical Association (AMA) and the United Auto Workers union.
  • Their chief function is to promote the economic interests of their members.

Cause Groups:

  • These tend to focus on specific issues or causes, often based on ethical or moral beliefs.
  • Membership is not restricted to any specific section of society, as anyone who supports a group’s cause can join.
  • Key examples: Greenpeace (environmental issues) and National Rifle Association (gun rights).
  • Cause groups do not have to aim to benefit their members directly, only to promote a cause or value they believe in.

Insider Groups:

  • These are organisations or lobby groups that have a close relationship with policy makers.
  • They are often asked to participate in the drafting of legislation, consulted on key issues, or included in advisory panels.
  • For instance, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an influential ‘insider’ group due to the nature of its relationship with the government.

Outsider Groups:

  • These are groups that have no special relationship with the government and seek to influence policy from outside the formal channels of power.
  • They often rely on public campaigning, demonstrations, media campaigns and public advocacy to achieve their aims.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) can be considered an ‘outsider’ group due to its use of courtroom litigation and public education.

Think Tanks:

  • These are research-driven organisations that seek to influence public policy based on their own research and analysis.
  • They can conduct influential studies on a myriad of issues and aim to have their findings shape public policy.
  • Famous examples include the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation.

Political Action Committees (PACs):

  • These are organisations that raise and donate money to candidate campaigns, intending to influence elections and, consequently, policy.
  • PACs are categorised under U.S. federal law, which imposes limits on their contributions and expenditures.
  • Many corporations, labour unions, and issue-based organisations maintain PACs.

Super PACs:

  • Formally known as independent expenditure-only committees, Super PACs also aim to influence elections but are not subject to the same restrictions as traditional PACs.
  • They can raise and spend unlimited amounts from corporations, individuals, and labour unions, but cannot directly contribute to or coordinate with individual candidates or parties.
  • Their influence in U.S. politics has grown significantly since their creation following court rulings in 2010.

Interest Groups vs. Political Parties:

  • While both aim to affect policy, they vary in their methods and goals.
  • Interest groups work to influence policy by lobbying government officials, while political parties aim to gain control of government to implement their own policy agendas.
  • Political parties must appeal to a broad array of issues to gain majority support, while interest groups can focus on specific issues or interests.