Pressure Groups and Types of Action

Pressure Group action is a key exam question and yet one students frequent get wrong because they end up referring to lots of examples of the same kind of action – usually lots of examples of protests. This week seems to have been a bumper week for Pressure Groups and therefore these examples are great for Unit 1 students.

Firstly, Pressure Group action is probably best divided into four categories:

  1. Direct action – usually involving few(er people) and may (but not necessarily) include civil disobedience.
  2. Mobilising the public – usually involving a greater scale of people in protests, petitions, etc.
  3. Lobbying – the act of ‘seeking the ear’ of someone with power
  4. Legal Action – using the courts to get your way.

For a ten mark question on PG methods, Greenpeace have undertaken direct action by climbing Nelson’s column, the austerity march was a show of mobilizing the public, the NFU is essentially lobbying to stay in the EU and the Junior Doctors are using the courts – great evidence all around!

For a 10/25 mark question however, a good student would look at why each group chose this particular method; how would it actually help them achieve their aim? Equally, it is interesting that all of these examples (except the NFU) are centered around London, giving really good evidence for PGs concentrating power geographically (link to elitism).

Finally, this shows a really good mix of traditional pressure group action and action changing with technology. Protests in London are rather traditional and suggest PGs haven’t changed much. However, the Junior Doctors are relying on crowdfunding for their court case, both a new innovation and a new use of technology for PGs, yet at the same time they have also planned more traditional strike action. For any question therefore regarding NSMs vs PGs, it seems that traditional PGs do still have a place.

Obviously, the Juniors Doctors article could also be used for judicial review (Judiciary Unit 2) and the role of PGS in checking the actions of government. Equally, with such a lot of action, it would be good to show the pluralist side of PGs, allowing people to be involved in governance between elections.