Monday, 26 September 2011

Pressure Group paired case study

You're looking into a contrasting pair of pressure groups active in the US today, a binary opposite representing two conflicting views.
Pro-choice and pro-life groups were your choice; look to supplement learning on these with others to get a full picture of the role of pressure groups in US politics (and comparative UK/EU) today and over recent history. The partisan make-up of government at any given time (a more complex picture than in the UK given that we can have, as present, Republican Congressional majorities and a Democratic president) will partly shape whether such groups are considered insider or outsider, a status which is always open to change.

To research your case study, identify useful secondary sources (try book indexes, Amazon searches, googling, specific sites such as, and searches within newspapers, periodicals and blogs/other online resources). The blog format is useful for this - either as a links list or just within a post you can save hyperlinks (ensuring your own description enables you to identify what its actually about) to (re-)visit later. You can also add a brief summary under each as you work through each.

Some steps to take/aspects to consider then:
  1. Identify a range of similar pressure groups on 'your' side of the argument.
  2. Assess what status your particular group has - is it considered the largest/most influential for example? Within the pro-life groups there exists a wide range, with some extremist groups advocating murder of abortion clinic workers. Is your group mainstream or more of a radical fringe group?
  3. Locate a range of resources, and note these for working through later (see above).
  4. Whats the history of your group? Remember, when considering every aspect of US gov/pols you're considering at minimum key events of the last 10 years, so don't exclusively look at the very latest actions of these groups.
  5. Can you find any information about the size of its membership; funding/budget; prominent political or celebrity supporters?
  6. Any direct evidence of supporting particular candidates with endorsements/campaign contributions?
  7. Look for sources which oppose what they do, in particular to see if there's any information to be found about non-grassroots funding; many pressure groups may have mass memberships but could be argued to really represent elite interests, and there is often an extremely wealthy donor in the background. The Tea Party (not really a Party despite the name) is one example of this.
  8. How do they use the media to try and shape public opinion and/or policy-makers? Describe key features of their online presence, and any other media (newsletter, podcast, YouTube channels etc) they operate.
  9. Can you find any evidence of their being used within news media as authoritative commentators, for example a pro-life group regularly asked to appear on Fox News?
  10. Whether on their website or elsewhere, do they appear to operate a media operation designed to identify and rebut/oppose anything they see as against their stance in the news or entertainment media?
  11. What campaigns do they boast of as showcasing their past successes? Can you link any of these with contemporaneous events in US pols (eg Dem or Rep presidency)? Do they detail how they organised/conducted these campaigns?
  12. What current campaigns do they have ongoing?
  13. Do they operate outwith the US?
  14. Do you think they play a useful role in US gov/pols?
  15. Are there any comparable groups operating in the UK/EU, and if so how dis/similar are they?

No comments:

Post a Comment