This activity is designed to be used in the classroom or as a homework task to support the teaching and learning of Pressure Groups.
Pressure Groups - Activity
Pressure groups can be seen to be an important part of the stakeholder model. They can provide the checks and balances on the behaviour of businesses and represent the views of the majority on a particular issue.
For some, that issue is so important that legitimate protest is not seen as being sufficient to make the point. In these circumstances, the group takes it upon themselves to use ever more extreme measures to get what they see as being such a vital issue dealt with.
In some cases, the tactics used can be shocking but effective. Campaigns against seal and whale killing were successful in reducing the numbers killed and giving some protection for endangered species.
When does a protest become unacceptable? © Nick Winchester, Stock.Xchng
Task: When do the activities of a pressure group become unacceptable?
This Activity will provide you with a case study of a company that has been badly affected by protests from pressure groups. Your task is to present an argument that considers the extent to which a pressure group should be allowed to go to in order to make its point and influence policy and business behaviour.
In some respects the issue might sound easy - they should not, for example, go as far as breaking the law - but are some issues so important that it is necessary to do this to get the establishment to see common sense?
The Case Study: Huntingdon Life Sciences
Huntingdon Life Sciences is a company based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. It does research for companies in the pharmaceutical, biochemical and agricultural industries. This research involves the use of animals for experiments. Huntingdon Life Sciences has been subject to a concerted campaign by pressure groups that object to its work and its treatment of animals.
Pressure groups opposed to the work of Huntingdon have been taking ever more extreme measures to make their point, prompting the government to pass new legislation.
One example that prompted this legislation was the case of Gladys Hammond, the mother-in-law of a guinea pig breeder on a farm in Staffordshire, whose grave was desecrated and her body removed allegedly by animal rights activists complaining about the work of the farm.
Should Huntingdon be allowed to carry out its legitimate business? Are all the pressure groups involved going too far or are the actions of some damaging the work of others in seeking to limit Huntingdon's activities? Is legislation the way forward? Have the protests so far been successful in changing Huntingdon's and others' behaviour? Is the work of Huntingdon and others like it so important that this type of research transcends animal rights?
These might be some of the issues you have to consider in constructing your argument. Remember, it is important to focus attention on the business aspects of the issue and not the political or moral issues, although these might have some impact on your argument.
Related Web sites for Research
- Huntingdon Life Sciences
- Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty
- Groups opposed to Huntingdon Life Sciences
- Clampdown on animal rights protesters - from politics.co.uk
- Tougher prison sentences to curb animal extremists - from the Daily Telegraph
- Jailed activist attacked vehicles - from the BBC (includes links to related articles)
- Facts about animal experiments - from the BBC
- Activists 'no-go' zone rejected - from the BBC (includes the case of Gladys Hammond)