Sectional groups are also known as PROTECTIVE, DEFENSIVE or INTEREST groups. They represent and defend the interests of particular sections of society - often economic interests, but also consumer and professional interests. Examples include:

> the CBI, the House Builders' Federation, the Engineering Employers' Federation.

> trade unions, the TUC.

> the Consumers' Association, the AA, the RAC.

> the Law Society, the BMA, the RIBA.All of these bodies have other functions - i.e. they do not primarily exist as pressure groups - but they do act as pressure groups when the interests of their members are in some way at stake.


Cause groups are also known as PROMOTIONAL groups. These are usually formed for a specific purpose - to promote a particular cause or campaign on a particular issue. In this sense, they have no other function apart from their role as pressure groups. Examples include:

> CND, ASH, Friends of the Earth, Lord's Day Observance Society, the Howard League for Penal Reform, Shelter, Greenpeace, etc.

Inevitably, this neat categorisation does not cover every possible type of pressure group activity. For example, churches are not normally regarded as pressure groups, but they may intervene in the political process on what they regard as important moral issues.

Pressure groups can also be categorised according to their STATUS and METHODS rather than their aims.


Insider groups are those which are regarded as legitimate by the government and are consulted on a regular basis.

Insider groups generally have a better chance of influencing policy because they are likely to be consulted in advance - for example when government is considering a policy initiative, when it issues a Green or White Paper, when the legislation is being drafted, etc.

Examples of insider groups include the National Farmers' Union, the CBI, the professional associations and trade associations with detailed knowledge of their area of interest.


Outsider groups are those which are not closely involved with decision makers and which find it more difficult to get their voices heard.

They are more likely to be protest groups, which use campaigning methods to influence public opinion and to draw attention to their arguments. They are, however, less likely to influence policy because they do not usually become involved in the debate until government has already decided its position.

Examples of outsider groups include CND, the Motor Cycle Action Group, the various animal welfare protest groups, etc.

There is some overlap with the sectional/cause division of pressure groups - many sectional groups are insiders; many cause groups are outsiders. But there are exceptions - trade unions were regarded as outsiders by the Conservative government, while cause groups such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England can have insider status.