lobbyists vs pressure groups


Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
What is the difference between a pressure group and lobbyists please?

It seems to me that a pressure group is bigger in its structures and may be a more generic term: a group of people acting in favour of a given group in a society: trade unions, associations. They influence the government to the benefit of the group of whose behalf they work.

Lobbyists people who try to influence legislative bodies in order to make favourable laws for the people they represent.

It still seems the same to me, it's all about influencing policies.:confused: Could someone enlighten me and give some examples.

Here are the entries in WR dictionary:
pressure group

Input appreciated. :)

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  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    From the definition I undersand that a pressure group also influence officials, no?

    an interest group that attempts to influence legislation through the use of lobbying techniques and propaganda.

    So perhaps it could be:
    "pressure group works on the public or on a subset of the public, and/or on an official, functionary, or office, while a lobbyist exerts pressure or influence on an official, functionary, or office." ?

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    Personally, I would say 'lobbyist' existed before 'pressure group', and they were individual attempts, as opposed to the organized structure of today's pressure groups.
    But Wiki offers quite interesting pages on lobbying and interest groups, where it is shown the two now carry out the same kind of activity.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    The term "lobbyist" comes from a time when people representing special interests cornered lawmakers in the lobby of a legislative chamber to present their case.

    Nowadays, a lobbyist is an individual, not a group, who has access to lawmakers and presents the case of individuals or groups interested in legislation at hand. A lobbyist might seek to visit with lawmakers, testify before committees or any other means to get the message across.

    The term lobbyist has something of an unsavory connotation because of news reports and even criminal action against lobbyists and their lawmaking friends for bribery, etc. In fact, however, there is nothing wrong with the principle of lobbying and usually one finds lobbyists working both sides of an issue. In the U.S., most states have enacted laws to control lobbyists and attempt to avoid abuses.

    A pressure group, however, is as the name implies, i.e. a group. As a group, members never need set foot in the same city as a legislative assembly. They might institute letter-writing campaigns, media advertising, word-of-mouth smear campaigns, etc. As an extreme, they might even organize mass marches on capital cities such as we have seen recently in the U.S. by supporters of foreigners illegally in the United States.

    If I might be permitted to ramble a bit: Prior to 1973, the legislature of the state of Montana had no paid staff for when it met every other year. Staff were provided "free" by the telephone company, the state's largest mining companies, the power company, etc. Obviously, those companies exerted tremendous influence upon the legislative process.

    Finally, the people of Montana (a western state with fewer than a million inhabitants) decided enough was enough and decided to fund a paid staff for the Legislature.

    I was the first public information director for the Legislature (1973) and I got to see lobbyists and pressure groups at work (and play).


    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Sdgraham, that's a very clear description, a very appreciated one. :) It seems to me that even people like Congressmen may be lobbyists too unless it's banned by law.