PRESSURE GROUP: Meaning, Definition, Features and Four 4 Types

Advocacy groups, also known as interest groups, special interest groups, lobbying groups or pressure groups use various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and ultimately policy. They play an important role in the development of political and social systems
PRESSURE GROUP: Meaning, Definition, Features and Four 4 Types What are pressure Groups

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Along with political parties; in present day societies in political systems, pressure groups play a very significant role. These groups are found in every political system and work outside the regular party system. These are active not only during election times but even before and after that. A group of men and women who do not appeal to the electorate on the basis of any programme but who are concerned with specific issues is called pressure groups.


It means that groups are made to create pressure to some organizations or a particular group of people or government.
A group of people who have a similar kind of interest organized themselves and pressurize the government to the point of gaining recognition, legitimization, and realization of their specific interest.


According to Richard Watson, “An interest group is any collection of individuals with a shared attitude on some matter who make certain claims on demands on others in society with respect to that matter.” 
According to Francis G.Castles, “Any group attempting to bring about political change, whether through government activity or not and which is not a political party in the sense of being represented, at that particular time in the legislative body.” 
According to Finer, “Pressure groups are the anonymous empire.” 
According to Alan R. Ball, “A pressure group has been defined as organised aggregate which seeks to influence the context of governmental decision without attempting to place its members in formal governmental capacities.”


In the socialist political system, the existence of Pressure groups is unnecessary. Such a political system has the necessary measures to protect the interests of all sections of society. The characteristics and functions of the pressure groups refer to the functions and characteristics of the pressure- groups in the liberal democratic system.

The following are particularly significant in the many functions and features of the Pressure groups-
It plays a vital role in establishing public relations with the government. Through all these groups, the people’s scarcity and grievances and demands are brought to the notice of the government. In this regard, the government is eager to resolve those shortcomings and meet the demands.

It keeps a close watch on the activities of the government. Any disruption to the government’s decisions and actions, it comes to the attention of the groups and the campaign is widely publicized. The countrymen get the opportunity to be fully informed about the error of the government.

Pressure groups seek to gain widespread public support in favour of group interests and influence the government. For this purpose, groups collect information and news on various topics of their own interest.

Pressure groups play a vital role in political socialization. Presently, each pressure group is governed and controlled by the sponsorship of any one political party. Opportunities and possibilities are created to transmit certain types of political values within the masses.

Articulation and integration of different interests is another feature of pressure groups. It represents the interests of different parts of society. The interests of the people belonging to different livelihoods are expressed through these groups.

Pressure groups are always careful about government decisions, policies, and laws. This is because the main goal of all these groups is to influence the government as much as possible to bring government decisions and laws in favors of the group.

Through pressure groups, the authorities of the governing department and the law department can discern the nature of public opinion on a particular issue and are governed accordingly. Thus, the democratic appearance of the government remains characteristic.


Links government to the people:
One of the functions of pressure groups is that it serves as a link between the government of the day and the people it governs. There are times when the government of the day wants to introduce a policy but does not know whether the people will accept the policies or not. Pressure groups take the issue to the people through their activities and are able to communicate back to government what the views of the people are.

Promotes participate in government:
Another function of pressure groups is to engender public participation in the activities of government of the day. Some pressure groups engage in demonstrations and other measures to put their views across to the government. The activity of pressure groups therefore promotes political participation and carries the community along.

Source of information to government:
Another function of pressure groups is as a source of information to the government. As the pressure groups lobby government on various fronts, the interaction offers the government valuable information on aspects of issues they may not even be aware of.

Checks dictatorship:
Also, the activities of pressure groups ensure that governments do not perpetuate themselves in power thereby drifting into a dictatorship. 

Promote the interest of the minority:
Again, pressure groups champion the rights of the under-privileged, especially promotional pressure groups. As they go about their activities, they ensure that the interests of minority groups are not trampled upon by the government. Thus, pressure groups act as watchdogs on the government.

Influencing legislation:
Another function of pressure groups is to put pressure on government so that it can implement policies that inure to the benefit of its members. If not putting pressure on government to influence its policy, it is putting pressure on government to change a policy direction or to withdraw entirely a particular policy that does not favor their members.


Pressure groups can be varied, such as student association, educational institutions, labour unions, etc. Almond and Powell have discussed in detail the classification of pressure groups in the book Comparative Politics. These two modern state scientists have divided interest groups into four classes. 

These are mentioned below-

  • Associational Groups
  • Non-Associational Groups
  • Institutional Groups
  • Anomic Groups

Associational Groups

Associational pressure groups are an expert group to present their self-interest claims. These are formally organized in the form of registered bodies having their own constitution or rules, finances, records, addresses of the office bearers and others like this. Such groups are formed for articulation of interest.

Non-Associational Groups

Non-Associational groups that are racial, ethnic, class, linguistic, etc. are seen. Dignity and class-based groups are also part of the non-associational pressure group. Not all of these groups are properly organized.

Institutional Groups

This group is made up of people from any profession. Such a group may be intent for the interests of its own members or any other group. These institutional forces play a significant role in the political system of the country. Such groups are seen in the legislatures, political parties, bureaucracy, and so on.

Anomic Groups

Such pressure groups usually originate from a particular event. Pressure groups of this kind naturally express their dissatisfaction with their smoky accusations and this group creates pressure on the country’s political system through protests, riots, assassinations, etc.


  1. Class groups 
  2. Regional groups
  3. Language groups 
  4. Religious groups
  5. Caste groups


  1. Creation of favorable public opinion 
  2. Influence on political parties 
  3. Lobbying • Propaganda 
  4. By providing high jobs 
  5. By arranging strikes etc. 
  6. Providing of information to government 
  7. Consultants on government


Pressure Groups:

Pressure groups have specific interest and work for the collective interests of its membership only.
Membership of pressure groups is limited.
Pressure groups resort to agitation a politics like marches, demonstrations, strikes, fasts.
Pressure groups are informal, often secretive, conceited and conspiratorial and sometimes even unrecognized entities.
Pressure groups do not contest election.

Political Parties:

While political parties have a broad based programme that covers many aspects of national life influence and coerce the government.
Membership of the parties is very broad based and it is a wide coalition of diverse members and they have mass memberships.
Political parties use only Constitutional means to achieve their aims.
Political parties are the formal, open and recognized part of the political system competing for power.
Political parties contest in election and want to establish government.

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