Exam Focus: Pressure groups, functions and disadvantages

Last updated on September 10, 2018 by The Counselor

Exam focus – Keypoint on Pressure groups and Political parties, functions and disadvantages

Pressure groups is an organized social interest group formed with the main aim of pursuing its interest and influencing government policies to the benefit of its members but do not attempt to control government machinery directly by contesting an election.

Types of pressure group

  • Economic pressure group; Chambers of Economic, Agriculture and Industry,
  • Trade Unions
  • Occupational pressure group e.g. N.U.J, N.U.T, etc.
  • Professional pressure groups; e.g. N.B.A, N.M.A, etc.
  • Social pressure groups
  • Religious pressure group
  • Educational Pressure groups; e.g. N.U.T, Students unions, ASUU, etc


Difference between political parties and pressure groups

Political parties Pressure groups
 Aim at winning an election and controlling government. Aim at pursuing the interest of their members and influencing government policies.
Submits candidates that contests election. Do not submit a candidate to contest an election.
Organized to reach everybody. Not organized to reach everybody.
More embracing. Less embracing.
Have a wide range of policies and interest. Have restricted policies and interest.
Not selfish in nature. Selfish in nature.
Tend to be always active because of their unlimited aims. May cease to be active once they achieve their limited aims.
Distinctly organized with defined leadership. Not distinctly organized and without defined leadership.

Functions, advantages and importance of pressure group

  • They act as a watchdog that checks the activities of government.
  • They prevent mal-administration and check dictatorial tendencies.
  • They help to ensure smooth election but do not contest
  • They contribute to the economic development of a country.
  • Influence and help to change obnoxious policies.
  • They educate their members and members of the public.
  • They offer useful expert advice to government.
  • Act as a useful bridge that links the people to the government.
  • Serve as a platform through which people can express their opinion.
  • Dissemination of information on government policies.

Disadvantages or dangers of pressure groups

  • They only seek for the interest of their members.
  • Their strikes, etc seriously destabilize the economy.
  • Their activities may bring about the downfall of a government.
  • They encourage their members to be lawless through their confrontational activities.
  • They may cause a state lots of anarchy and chaos in a country.
  • Their lobbying system may encourage bribery and corruption.
  • They may ally with political parties to rig election.
  • The use of rioting may cause a lot of damage to property.
  • They are elitist in nature.


Methods employed by pressure groups in achieving their aims and objectives or influencing government

  1. Lobbying
  2. Ultimatum
  3. Demonstrations
  4. Consultations
  5. Protest letters
  6. Strikes and Boycotts
  7. Campaign and propaganda
  8. Pressure on the executives
  9. Alliances with political parties
  10. Pressure on civil servants
  11. Rioting, hijacking and holding people hostages.


Factors that militate against the success of pressure groups in pursuit of their demands

  1. Weak leadership
  2. Poor organization
  3. Indiscipline
  4. Illiteracy
  5. Lack of fund
  6. Political instability
  7. The type of government
  8. The type of pressure group
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