What are the major features of pressure groups?
From the pluralist’s point of view, one major feature of pressure groups which aids democracy is the fact that they perform an educative role. Here pressure groups can provide information and education to the general public, making them aware of political events and facts. They tend to help the public have a better knowledge about a particular cause which they are fighting for. For example, Liberty, a pressure group that fights for human rights, if the conservatives are in power, they are less likely to have a consultation with them. So Liberty when educating the public on human rights, would be able to specify which political party are in favour of them, thus presenting anyone who is passionate about their cause which political party may best represent their views. On the other hand, the elitists say not all information used to educate the public are completely true. These pressure groups, need supporters to help them fight their cause. Therefore there is every possibility that they may bend facts or only use those which aid their cause, as opposed to giving a complete picture. For example in 1995, Greenpeace apologised for releasing inaccurate information about the Brent Spar.
Another important feature of pressure groups which supports democracy is its role of representation. While performing this representative function, they speak up for the fragment of society not effectively represented through the existing electoral system thereby giving them a voice. From the other view, because of the undemocratic nature of these pressure groups, only the voice of those who represent a general view tend to be the ones who get their demands met, despite the fact there may be minorities that do not feel that way, and their voices are rarely heard. For example Action on Smoking and Health, a pressure group with the aim of spreading knowledge about the harmful effect of tobacco, informs the government on the health risks of smoking but also the opinions of the public who desired it banned from public places and a bill was passed banning smoking in public places. However, the minority of people who disagreed were ignored, despite the fact they were represented by FORREST.