Parties, causes and political power (Soundings 55, Winter 2013)

Author: Ben Little

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Publication date: December 1, 2013

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Ben Little

Key indicators for participation in political parties are at an all-time low. Much of the energy that once went into parties now finds itself in cause-based campaigns. This article asks how and if political parties can renew themselves. It looks at the heyday of political parties in the 1950s and 1960s, the challenge posed to them by a pincer movement of consumerism and identity politics since that period, and at the current relationship between political parties, campaigners and ideas of power, particularly in an age of digital media. It argues that political parties and their manner of wielding power has become ‘abject’ but that traditional campaign groups cannot simply fill that role as it goes against their very design. Instead a new formation and structure must take the place of the old political party, but it is not yet clear what shape that organisation will take.

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