Conclusion — Politics in the Age of the Individual
In this book I have used a variety of points of view to try and understand what happens within political parties. Following a dominant theoretical trend within political science that stems from the premise of the rational actor, I explored some of the incentives for conference attendance. However, an approach to party conferences that concentrates only on self-centred, individualist motives is reductionist because most of what goes on there emerges from interactions and relates to broader dimensions of party life and activism. The very peculiar context of the annual seaside gathering is the melting pot where party cultures are formed. I reject the dichotomy that opposes a focus on instrumental rationality that is supposed to drive individual actors (usually taken as isolated entities) and theories that emphasise social context and other dimensions of human activities. I believe we need to go beyond the question of “why” people participate in politics or attend party conferences because the answers, and the behaviours, are too complex to be reduced to post-hoc justifications couched in the idiom of common sense individualism (Fevre, 2000; Schuessler, 2000).
KeywordsInstrumental Rationality Party Member Labour Party Electoral Competition Private Finance Initiative
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