Factors Determining The Power Of Political Pressur

2223 words - 9 pages

Pressure groups and issue movements are often the focus of attention in the Australian political arena because of their ability to elicit change in a society where the disadvantaged can be powerless and the party politics can exclude the average Australian.They serve the purpose of bridging the gap between the state and civil society, theoretically letting the voices of the Australian public be heard. However, successful groups and their movements are rare (partially due to the great number of them existing in Australia alone), as certain factors determine a groups successand thus the amount of power they are able to exercise on the political process. These factors will be investigated by firstly looking at the notion of civil society in general, then observing the methods adopted by these pressure groups. These specific factors will then be dealt with, along with a brief review of successful groups and their movements displayed within Australia, by acknowledging inequalities in society. A distinction can be made between pressure groups and issue movements, although they both use forms of pressure to influence the government. A group is mainly concerned with securing material benifits for it's members while issue movements are more concerned with transforming existing cultural patterns and drawing attention to the causes which they promote (Marsh, 1994). For the purpose of this essay, both these avenues of pressure will be investigated. The notion of civil society allows both these forms of pressure to exist, as it denotes a society with a collection of groups and associations that are independent from the state (Lovell, McAllister, Maley & Kukathas, 1998). This allows a dispersion of power so the state cannot exert complete control over laws. Groups allow the concerns of the people be known to the state (Lovell et al., 1998). Without a civil society we would be essentially totalitarian, with the state having too much control, and this type of society would be anti-individual (Maddox, 1996).However, criticisms of civil society include the fact that a groups sectional concerns may conflict with the interests of society as a whole, or the "common good".But, not all issues segregate the population. Universal concerns such as the environment are a concern to the entire world, and this allows a lot of pressure to put on governments to implement international policies for conservation, most of which were brought to their attention by the Brundtland report which called for governments to be "thinking globally and acting locally" (Kelly, 1994, p. 524).Nevertheless, both pressure groups and issue movements main target is to b heard and recognised, and in order to be recognised by government they can approach it at any of three levels: Legislation, administration or public opinion (Maddox, 1996). At the legislation level, the few groups lucky enough to access to a politician send a spokesperson to approach this politician (usually one that has...

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