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Pressure Groups

Groups play a direct role in political life. People organize social movements, interest groups and pressure groups in order to influence the government. Ethnic and racial groups, religious and linguistic minority groups have also acted collectively to influence governmental decisions.

Thus a pressure group refers to an interest group which tries to safe-guard and promotes the interests of its members. It is not a political group seeking to capture political power though it may have a political character of its own.

A pressure group can be understood as an association of persons with a common economic interest who try to influence governmental decisions. These pressure groups also known as interest groups pursue their political goals through lobbying- the process by which individuals and groups communicate with public officials in order to influence decisions of government. They also distribute persuasive literature and launch public campaigns to build grass -root support for their political objectives. According to Functionalists such groups play a constructive role in decision-making. They prepare the ground for the orderly political participation. Conflict theorists on the other hand argue that although a few organizations work on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged most of the pressure groups represent the vested interests of the business leaders, the lobbies of multinational companies, rich professionals and political leaders. They further assert that these powerful lobbies discourage political participation by the individual citizens. The pressure groups have greater say in democracy than in the totalitarian setup.Inspite of their limitations and defects they have become an essential part of the modern democratic process.