UPSC SOCIOLOGY Syllabus :
Paper 1 – Chapter 6 – Politics and Society:
(a) Sociological theories of power
(b) Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties.
(c) Nation, state, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology.
(d) Protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.
- Harry Eckstein has defined pressure groups as “any organized group which attempts to influence government decisions without seeking to exercise the formal powers of government.”
- They are forms of organisation which exerts pressure on political or administrative system of a country to extract benefits out of it and advance their own interest.
- They have come up largely in the wake of scarce resources and competing interest.
- The aim of such groups is to influence people of power and give the general public a platform to fight for the laws they want.
TYPES OF PRESSURE GROUPS
- Associational groups are formed for a definitive cause that supports a particular group. Some examples of Associational Interest Groups in India are Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Trade Unions such as AITUC (All India Trade Union Congress), etc.
- Non-associational groups, on the other hand, lack the formal structure that associational groups follow. Their activity is largely dependent on the social issue at hand- racial, ethnic, linguistic and class issues are a few examples.
- Institutional groups are primarily formal and comprise individuals from any profession. These groups include political parties, legislatures, armies, bureaucracies, etc.
- Lastly, anomic groups are groups that usually originate spontaneously from a particular event.
- These groups often arise out of increasing pressure and demands on resources because of the frustration felt by the people of the community.
- The most important characteristic of pressure groups is that they are independent of the political system.
- Pressure groups centre themselves around specific interests.
- Pressure groups incorporate both modern and traditional techniques when exerting pressure on government officials.
- Pressure Groups bring the demands and needs of the people to the notice of the decision-makers.
- They increase social cohesion and political stability.
- They help to educate people, compile data and provide specific information to policy makers, thus they work as an informal source of information.
- Pressure groups complement the work of opposition political parties.
- Pressure groups play a leading role in the formulation of public opinion.
- Through lobbying with the bureaucracy, the pressure groups are usually in a position to influence the process of policy implementation.
- Many of these groups are organised around religious, regional and ethnic issues.
- Instead of the pressure groups exerting influence on political process, they become tools and implements to subserve political interests.
- Most pressure groups do not have autonomous existence; they are unstable and lack commitment, their loyalties shift with political situations which threatens general welfare.
- Lack of resources make pressure groups short-lived and sporadic.