Changing Parties: An Anthropology of British Political Party by Dr Florence Faucher-King

By Dr Florence Faucher-King

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Conference participation beckons similar questions and it is not always easy to find volunteers to go to conference. It is often seen as an archaic practice that compares poorly with the new leisure activities on offer in modern British society. 9 Transport, accommodation and food add to the bill. Industrious participants at the three main conferences can attempt to survive with the light buffets provided by fringe meeting organisers although lunching and dining of such sandwiches can be a Why Do People Attend Conferences?

This is because any deviation from this norm is now perceived as “hypocritical” or “irrational”. As Jeremy Paxman’s scepticism towards “political animals” reflects (2003), attitudes to civic action may increasingly be influenced by similar cultural trends in Britain. So, whilst approaches in terms of incentives to action shed light upon motives for individual participation, their results remain necessarily limited by their economic premises. Acknowledging the limitations of rational choice approaches, Patrick Seyd and Paul Whiteley have proposed a general incentive model incorporating insights derived from social psychological theory (Seyd and Whiteley, 2002: 51–57).

Members have been balloted on draft manifestos and party organisation and supporters are also increasingly consulted. What are the implications of the introduction of “direct democracy” procedures on activism since it is clear that party leaderships have also intended to use such reforms to bypass activists? Finally, Chapter 10 explores the significance of the exponential growth of the political and commercial conference fringe. Similar to what has happened at the Edinburgh Festival, the fringe has become an event in itself, almost overtaking the official scene.

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