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Role of Interest Groups

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What is Pluralism?

Pluralism in politics can mean:-

a)     An acceptance of a variety of views.  This requires levels of tolerance in a society but also democratic safeguards such as free speech and freedom of the media.

b)     A dispersal of power in society.  This can take place in two ways:-

        Power is dispersed among a range of institutions.  In the American system power is separated between the President, the two houses of Congress and the Supreme Court with none being able to control the other.  The British system has been Executive dominated with a Government with a majority able to control the House of Commons. Nevertheless, in Britain there are institutions with a good deal, if not complete, independence from the Government, such as the Judiciary, the devolved governments and local government, the BBC, the House of Lords, the Audit Commission  or the Office of Budget Responsibility.

        Those areas that are not part of government are called by political scientists Civil Society and include business, trade unions, political parties, professional bodies, think tanks, groups promoting particular ideas, religious groups and so on.  The existence of a wide range of civil society organisations, including interest groups, able to organise and promote their views and put pressure on the government is held to be an important part of a democratic society.