What are Pressure Groups?
The term “Pressure Group” was coined by Peter Odegard in his book Pressure Politics: The story of Anti-Saloon League, Columbia Press-1928. In the USA, Pressure Groups are also known as ‘Lobby‘. Pressure groups are voluntary associations whose membership is acquired by choice. These consists of those like-minded people who have a common interest. They are not a part of government. While remaining outside government, they try to pressurise the government to formulate such policies that may fulfil their interest. CII, NASCOM, NGOs etc may be termed, Pressure Groups.
As society becomes large-scale, modern, and industrial it also becomes heterogeneous. Different groups within the society have different aspirations, different problems, and different needs. In such a situation it becomes difficult for the government to understand those aspirations, needs, and the problem on its own.
In such a situation, the Pressure Groups serve as a link between the people and the government. They highlight the real problem and present their demands to the government. However, the pressure groups may also be contradictory. They may not always play a positive role in society. They may become a hindrance in the process of development and they may also resort to anti-social means.
For example the Naxalites, the terrorist organization.
It may be noted here that PGs are not the same as Interest groups. Both the terms have different connotations. PGs has members who have a common interest and co-operate with each other for the fulfillment of those interests by pressuring the government to alter the policy to their benefit.
On the other hand, Interest Groups do not affect the Policy-making process. Self Help Groups (SHGs) present in rural areas fall in the category of Interest Group.
Gabriel Almond classified pressure groups into four different types:-
Associational Pressure Groups are those pressure groups that have a well-defined structure with a hierarchy of officials and well-defined objectives.
For example- CII, NASCOM etc.
Non-Associational pressure groups do not have a well-defined structure. They do not have a hierarchy of officials. Even the objective is not well defined and may keep changing from time to time. They do not remain active continuously. They emerge from time to time and they vanish.
For example- caste-based associations.
Institutional Pressure Groups are those pressure groups that exist within the government itself. They themselves may or may not be associated with policy making processes. However, even after being a part of the government, they keep on pressuring the government to formulate policies that will be in their favour.
For example- The IAS lobby.
Anomic Pressure Groups are those pressure groups that resort to anti-social means in order to pressurize the government. In order to fulfill their interest, they may cause loss of life and property.
For example- The terrorist organization, Naxalite, etc.
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