Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Quentin Beresford

Abstract

This research investigates the activities and experiences of two pressure groups involved in the State Homelessness Taskforce. The aim of the research is to critique the predominant understanding of insider and outsider pressure groups within the Australian literature, which is based primarily upon the sectional/promotional typology. The applicability of the Aberdeen insider/outsider model of pressure group theory within the Australian context is also determined. Due to methodological difficulties inherent in attempting to quantify the success or effectiveness of pressure groups, this research focuses specifically upon the strategies employed by each group in their attempt to influence the findings and recommendations of the Taskforce. A preliminary review of pressure group literature indicated that Australian works contained little reference to critiques of the various understandings of insider and outsider groups that are exhibited within the British literature. The revise typologies that have been advanced by British authors to circumvent these criticisms are similarly under-explored within the Australian literature. The Improved insider/outsider typologies do however offer a framework for a more in-depth investigation into the role and influence of pressure groups in the policy process. In response to these initial findings, the research aims were adjusted to incorporate the Aberdeen model, one of the improved insider/outsider models, into the analysis of the pressure groups' activities. A case study approach was utilised to enable the exploration of the activities and experiences of two of the groups involved in the Taskforce process. The pressure groups studied in this research are the Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS), the peak body for the community services sector in Western Australia, and the Tenants Advice Service of Western Australia (TASWA), a community legal centre dealing with tenancy matters. These two organisations were chosen as case study subjects as preliminary research indicated that the activities and experiences of these groups during the State Homelessness Taskforce would enable a thorough critique of the insider/outsider models of pressure group theory. Analysis of the case study data, and of the literature, enabled the existing understanding of insider and outsider groups in the Australian literature to be compared and contrasted with the Aberdeen model. Findings from this analysis indicate that the existing model is ineffective in categorising pressure groups in a meaningful way. The understanding of insider and outsider pressure groups in Australia would therefore benefit from a greater awareness, and wider application of, the improved insider/outsider typologies that have emanated from Britain.

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