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Conceptualising Party Political Ideology: An Exploration of Party Modernisation in Britain

Dommett, Katharine (2012) Conceptualising Party Political Ideology: An Exploration of Party Modernisation in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Ideology in political parties has been studied in a variety of different ways. From accounts which emphasise the decline of ideology to scholars attesting the centrality of ideas, the interaction between parties and ideology is often far from clear. In this thesis I set out to explore this relationship in greater detail, arguing that ideological analysis is relevant to understanding parties, but that existing modes of investigation should be tailored to reflect the specific circumstances of political parties. In advancing this contention I introduce the concept of party political ideology as a means for schematising my own study of this area; offering a model in which parties are seen to both possess and project an ideology. In operationalising this approach I concentrate on ideology as projected, arguing that to understand parties’ contemporary relationship with ideology it is informative to consider how the public view this interaction. This leads me to examine ideology through rhetoric, exploring parties’ communicative utterances to discern the way in which ideology is conveyed, the form of ideological change and the apparent relevance of ideology vis-à-vis other party motivations. In applying this approach attention is directed to the Labour Party between 1982 and 1997 and the Conservatives between 1996 and 2010, exploring these periods to examine ideology, ideological change and the indicators of modernisation. Whilst characterising ideology in both of these cases, and developing my own narrative of ideological change and modernisation, I also use this analysis to exhibit the capacities of my theoretical and methodological approach. This leads me to examine how parties’ ideological messages are likely to be decoded and how notions of ideological irrelevance arise; insights which help to explain perceptions of ideology in relation to contemporary party politics. In this regard this thesis engages in a theoretical, methodological and applied analysis of the relationship between political parties and ideology. This multi-stranded inquiry is used to assert the relevance of ideology in the field of party politics and the need to advance, under the banner of party political ideology, a form of analysis capable of appreciating the nuanced interaction between these concerns.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.559167
Depositing User: Ms Katharine Dommett
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2012 10:30
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2016 13:34
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2812

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