- Groups of persons, employers, or other organizations joining together to represent the interests of a particular sectional groupvis-à-vis governments, the public at large, or other interest groups . Pressure groups, lobby groups, and interest groups are distinct from other clubs or social groups, in that their explicit purpose is to mobilize public opinion in support of their aims and to put pressure on decision-making bodies to agree to and support their demands, be they for the continuation of the existing state of affairs or for some change or innovation. Pressure groups coexist with other forms of interest aggregation, such as political parties, seeking to influence rather than to govern. Interest groups may develop into political parties by adopting a more open, less restricted platform; and some pressure groups have a special relationship with a political party, as illustrated by trade unions and the Labour Party in Britain.A distinction is sometimes drawn between protective and promotional groups, the former defending a section of society, the latter promoting a cause. The first category includes trade unions, professional associations, employer and trade associations, and motoring associations defending the interests of car owners. The second category would include societies seeking to prevent cruelty to animals or to children, groups arguing for or against censorship, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The distinction between the two types of interest group is obviously not watertight. For example, trade unions frequently campaign for national minimum wage laws as a means of defending the interests of their members, although the case is always offered as being in the public interest.
Dictionary of sociology. 2013.
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