What are the different types of Pressure Group?

A pressure group is an organisation that seeks to influence government without seeking power itself. There are a number of different types of pressure group so what are they and what are the differences between them?

What is an Insider Group?

An insider group is one which has a close relationship with the government and is likely to be consulted on key policy areas. Insider Groups operate inside the confines of the law and tend to use more traditional methods, like lobbying, to influence the government.

Within the categorisation of insider groups, some are considered to be ‘core insiders’. These are groups that have the most regular access to the government and are therefore most able to exert their influence.


Confederation of British Industry – The CBI is an advocate for 190,000 British businesses. They carry out research on behalf of its members and regularly meet with the government to represent their members.

British Medical Association – The BMA is the trade union for doctors in the United Kingdom and represents 173,000 members. Alongside supporting its members, it also carries out research on behalf of the medical profession as a whole.

The National Trust is the biggest pressure group in the UK.

National Trust – The National Trust is the largest pressure group by membership in the UK with almost 6 million members. Whilst it is most famous for its work looking after places of historic interest and providing public access to them, it also makes representations to the government about conservation issues.

What is an Outsider Group?

An outsider group is one that has no established links with the government. This is either by choice or because the government does not wish to cultivate close relationships with them. Whilst some outsider groups operate lawfully, others rely on tactics such as civil disobedience to have a political impact.


Extinction Rebellion – Extinction Rebellion was formed in 2018 and has used radical methods to get across its message. It has used civil disobedience and vandalism to bring attention to the climate emergency. For example, in April 2022 protestors from extinction rebellion blocked key bridges in London to bring attention to their stated aims.

Just Stop Oil activists through soup on a painting by Van Gogh.

Just Stop Oil – Just Stop Oil were launched in February 2022 and have called for the end of fossil fuels across the UK economy. They have courted controversy for their tactics that have included vandalism and the blocking of roads.

Animal Liberation Front – The Animal Liberation Front are a group that promotes radical measures to advocate for animal rights and even the use of violence. It is categorised as a violent extremist group by the UK Government.

What is a Promotional Group?

A promotional group is one that promotes a particular cause. They are often also called causal group. This means they will not base their membership on a particular section of society. They will use a variety of methods to advance their agenda. In particular, they will focus on education, media relationships and building alliances to push forward their agenda.


Greenpeace – Greenpeace were formed in 1969 and operate internationally. Their goal is to ‘ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity’. In doing this, it focuses on a range of issues including biodiversity, sustainability, deforestation and climate change.

Mind – Mind was formed in 1947 and lobbies the government on mental health issues. It works to raise public awareness of mental health issues and raises money from the public to try and carry out its mission.

Stonewall – Stonewall was founded in 1989 and advocates for LGBTQ+ issues. It was founded in response to Conservative Government passing Section 28 and named after the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It is now one of the most prominent campaigning groups in the UK.

What is a Sectional Group?

A sectional group is one that represents are particular section of society. This means that their membership is often restricted to that group. The interests they may represent may include, economic, professional or social ones, but the interest involved ties the members of the group together. The most prominent examples of sectional groups are trade unions.


The NEU are the largest education union in Europe.

NEU – The National Education Union is the largest education union in Europe and has over 550,000 members. They represent teachers across the UK, carrying out research and doing casework on behalf of their members. During 2023 they have taken industrial action in response to their demand for fairer pay and conditions from the Government.

NFU – The National Farmers Union represent the interests of farmers across the UK. It advocates for policies that are likely to benefit the farming industry such as government subsidies, international trade agreements and food standards regulation.

Royal College of Nursing– The Royal College of Nursing represents the interests of nurses across the UK. They campaign for policies that will support the nursing profession, such as the reintroduction of bursaries to support the training of nurses.

Article Summary

There are four different types of pressure group, but they are not mutually excusive. A group can be a member of two of the different types of groups.

Key Terms

Insider Group – A group that relies on its close relationship with the government to push forward its agenda.

Outsider Group – A group that does not have rely on close relationships with the government to push forwards its agenda.

Promotional Group – A group that promotes a certain issue without necessarily representing a certain section of society.

Sectional Group – A group that represents a certain section of society, for example a Trade Union.

Pressure Group – A group that seeks to influence government without seeking power itself.

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