Loosening the bonds? The causes and consequences of multi-speed membership in the British Labour Party 2011-2018

Garland, Jessica (2018) Loosening the bonds? The causes and consequences of multi-speed membership in the British Labour Party 2011-2018. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Using the framework of multi-speed membership, this thesis explores party membership and party organisational change. It does so within a single party case study, the British Labour Party: a party that has made significant changes to its membership model in the period of analysis (2011-2018). This party provides a critical case within which to explore and expand our understanding of membership and membership change.

The case study takes both a demand-side (elite) and supply-side (members) approach in order to understand both the causes and consequences of multi-speed membership change. On the demand side, the question of ‘why change?’ is answered by developing a multi-level model of party change, a model appropriate to the idea of multi-speed membership. This framework not only facilitates a broad exploration of party change but demonstrates the value of a multi-level, interactive model which accounts for the role of party actors in shaping change as well as responding to it.

The supply-side analysis explores the nature of party membership and the relationships between members and their party. This member-centred approach reveals the dynamics in this relationship: the processes that lead to joining, what happens after joining, and how and when the relationship sometimes ends. In taking this approach, new concepts and categories for understanding party membership are developed. These conceptual developments suggest a path towards solving some of the puzzles of party membership, such as why, in spite of significant ideological incongruence and dissatisfaction, some party members don’t leave.

This thesis seeks to fill the qualitative gap in party membership studies applying a mixedmethods approach utilising interviews, document analysis and participant observation within a single critical case to develop a comprehensive picture of the dynamics of party membership and party organisational change. This in-depth analysis of change in one party adds to our general understanding of party membership, party membership changes and their consequences, with insights that can be applied across other cases.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General) > JF1338 Public administration > JF2011 Political parties
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2018 15:08
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2020 09:28
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/80369

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