Comparison of Pressure Groups and Political Parties Differences .
A pressure group refers to any interest group that has
members with common interests and these members making joint efforts to
pressurise the formal political system to pursue their interests. They seek to
exert influence government from outside, rather than becoming a part of it.
They do not make
policy decisions, but rather try to influence those who happen to be the
Thus, pressure groups are essentially external to the
government and sometimes known as informal face of the politics.
The members of a pressure group are united by either a shared belief in a particular cause or a common set of interests. People with different ideological ideological and party preferences may thus work happily together as members of the same pressure group.
Comparison of Pressure Groups and Political Parties Differences
While the Pressure groups seek to exert influence, political
parties seek to win power.
The members of a pressure group have shared interests and
common causes. They may have different ideologies and party preferences despite
being members of same group.
The political parties are associations of individuals
sharing common values and preferences. Pressure groups are formed to solve their
Political parties are formed on ideological lines and they
continuously engage in mobilisation of the masses with aim to capture the power
and consolidate their position to attain or realise their ideological goals. While
the pressure groups have narrow issue focus, most political parties have broad
issue focus as well as a vision for the future.
Pressure groups are relatively temporary than the political parties.
Pressure groups remain confided to a select group of people, unlike political parties which engage in mass mobilization.
Both the pressure groups and political parties are main
media through which the public’s views and interests are channelled to
Both of them carry out representation, facilitate political participation and contribute to the policy process. In some circumstances, the political parties may act like a pressure group.
Types of Pressure Group
Although the pressure groups can be distinguished in a
variety of ways (including local/ national / transnational groups and
temporary/ permanent groups), the most common distinctions are as follows:
Interest and cause groups
Insider and outsider groups
Interest and cause groups
The interest groups,
also known as ‘sectional’, ‘protective’ or ‘functional groups’ are those groups
which represent a particular section of the society such as workers, employers,
consumers, ethnic or religious groups etc.
The interest groups are primarily concerned to protect or
advance the interests of their members. The membership is limited to people in
particular occupation, career or economic position. All the members are
motivated by material self-interest.
The examples of such
interest groups are trade unions, business corporations, trade associations,
professional bodies etc. Since they represent a particular section of the
society, they are called sectional groups.
Specific examples are
FICCI, ASSOCHAM and India’s all-powerful IT trade association NASSCOM.
Cause groups also
known as ‘promotional’, ‘attitude’ or ‘issue’ groups. Cause groups are based on
shared attitudes or values rather than the common interests of its members.
They seek to advance specific cause or causes ranging from charity activities,
poverty reduction, education and environment, human rights, peace etc.
Thus, the cause groups seek to advance particular ideals or
principles. The members may be from different sections or with different
interests. The members of the cause groups are motivated by moral or altruistic
concerns. Specific examples of such groups include the WWF, Amnesty
Some pressure groups
may be having the features of both interest and cause groups. For example,
Association for India’s Development (AID) promotes sustainable, equitable and
just development by supporting grassroots organizations in India.
At the same time, it also has campaigned for some specific interests such as free Binayak Sen campaign etc.
Difference between interest groups and cause groups
The interest groups
defend interests while the cause groups promote cause .
Interest groups have a closed membership, cause groups have
The interest groups are more related to the material
concerns of group, cause groups are related to moral concerns for group.
Interest groups are for members only, cause groups are for a wider society.
Insider Groups and outsider Groups Insider Groups
The insider groups are those groups which are consulted on a
regular basis by government. Thus, they operate ‘inside’ the decision-making
process with variety of degree, regularity and level of consultation.
Some of these groups become ultra-insider groups consulted
at ministerial level in the executive. The outsider groups have no special
links to the government.
They try to exert influence indirectly via the mass media or
through public opinion campaigns.
Thus the difference
can be summarized as follows:
Inside groups have access to policy makers, outside groups
have no access.
Function of Pressure Group
Pressure groups provide an alternative to the
formal representative process or the functional representation by providing
mouthpiece for groups and interests that are not adequately represented through
the electoral process or by political parties.
Pressure groups can be called informal face of politics. The
insider as well as outside groups; the cause as well as interest groups seek to
exert influence precisely by mobilizing popular support through activities such
as petitions, marches, demonstrations and other forms of political
Such forms of political participation have been particularly
attractive to young people.
Many pressure groups
devote significant resources to carrying out research, maintaining websites,
commenting on government policy and using high-profile academics, scientists
and even celebrities to get their views across, with an emphasis to cultivate
Though the pressure
groups themselves are not policy-makers, yet this does not prevent many of them
from participating in the policy-making process.
Many pressure groups are vital source of information and
advice to the governments and therefore are regularly consulted in the process
of policy formulation.
The questions have always been raised on influence of policy
groups in policy formation.
For example, many a times, only a small body of insider
groups are involved in the policy formulation.