Insider and Outsider Pressure Groups
The following interactive clip helps set the scene in understanding the context of inside and outside pressure groups.
Pressure groups (illustrate pluralist perspectives of power) exist to:
- influence governments in the periods between elections
- represent minority interests
- ensure governments listen to all groups in society
- increase political participation
- respond to changing world events
Some sociologists see pressure groups as forming two distinct camps, promotional and protective interest groups:
Protective pressure groups – they protect their members interests, such groups are usually have closed membership (you have to be a member of a specific professional body to join) for example BMA- British Medical Association; or trade unions such as NUT – National Union of Teachers
Promotional pressure groups – these groups push a particular cause such as Shelter (homeless).
A more clearer clarification is insider and outsider pressure groups:
Insider pressure groups are regularly consulted by ministers and civil servants and are trusted by government departments because they negotiate quietly and unobtrusively for their members. Examples of insider groups include the National Farmers’ Union, the CBI, the professional associations and trade associations with detailed knowledge of their area of interest.
In contrast outsider pressure groups are as their name suggests are outside everyday contact with ministers and civil servants. Outsider groups lack such close and business-like links with government. Examples of outsider groups include CND, the Motor Cycle Action Group, the various animal welfare protest groups, etc.
Lacking this recognition from the top, outsider pressure groups seek to convert and mobilise public opinion, often using demonstrations and rallies. These demonstrations often attract more attention in the press and from citizens than insider groups – which is implicitly portrayed as a sign of their weakness in media content.
This is evident in the following SkyNews clip.
However it’s worth pointing out that there’s some overlap with the sectional/cause division of pressure groups – many sectional groups are insiders; many cause groups are outsiders. But there are exceptions – trade unions were regarded as outsiders by the Conservative government, while cause groups such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England can have insider status.