Political Parties and Power: A New Framework for Analysis

Political Parties and Power: A New Framework for Analysis

Article for Political Studies, now available online earlyview via the above link.

Abstract:

Political parties are both vehicles for the pursuit of power and specific sites in which it is produced, organised, fought over, captured and lost. However, the literature on parties has not kept up with theoretical developments and largely lacks an explicit, systematic theorisation of power. To address this, a framework of power is proposed in this article that introduces some of the more nuanced and sophisticated insights of political theory to the analysis of parties without dismissing the benefits of more established approaches. Power is approached as a rich, multilayered concept, derived from diverse intellectual traditions. The framework acts as a heuristic which encapsulates individual agency, the strategic mobilisation of rules and norms, rationalisation and bureaucracy, the constitution of agents and the micro-level discipline of bodies. This provides a more satisfying framework for analysing power in parties than has previously been offered.

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