There are many synonyms for pressure groups, such as interest groups, nongovernmental organizations, campaigning groups, and advocacy groups, with the last three seen by the groups themselves as conveying a more favorable image. Pressure groups are organized entities that seek to influence public policy but do not normally seek public office or compete in elections. They are a key feature of a democratic society, based on the principle of freedom of association and of the need for government to take account of the diverse range of opinions that a more factional or fragmented society produces. However, they can also reinforce biases in the political system and make it more difficult to govern effectively and fairly. This entry considers how they exert influence, their relationship to ...

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