Rules of engagement: how current tactics corrode the relationship between progressive parties and their bases, and potential means of re-mobilizing the Left.




Ashbourne, Craig Donald

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The professionalization of political parties has significantly altered the means by which parties interact with voters and supporters. The current study is an attempt to examine what these changes in political communication mean for the ability of parties to organize supporters and mobilize them both in a campaign setting and in the longer-term struggle. Habermasian and Gramscian perspectives on the relational aspects of political communication highlight the challenges presented by the growing unidirectionality of communication and the concomitant atrophying of intermediary institutions. Beyond this, the work of Bottici and McLuhan is used to expose the effects of the 'arational' aspects of these changes in both form and content. To test the plausibility of the theoretical insights obtained, the case of the New Democratic Party of Canada is considered. The study concludes by considering the potential of new technological developments for resolving or mitigating concerns identified throughout the thesis.



political communication, political sociology, sociology, sociological theory, communications theory, political science, New Democratic Party, CCF, Canadian politics, Jurgen Habermas, Marshall McLuhan, Antonio Gramsci, Chiara Bottici, social movements, strategic communications, mobilization, historical sociology