With the financial support of EPOP and The Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield, it is proposed to hold a workshop on ‘the decline of party membership revisited’, to be held at Royal Holloway College, London on September 13/14. The workshop will immediately precede the annual EPOP conference, also to be held at Royal Holloway College.
The decline in party membership in the advanced liberal democracies has been well-documented. The general assumption has been that the downward spiral is inexorable. But in recent years many of the UK parties have experienced an increase in their membership. What might be the explanations for the surges? What impact have such surges had on party organisation? To what extent are these surges a temporary phenomenon? Are similar surges occurring in other liberal democracies? These are some of the questions to be addressed in the workshop.
Papers are invited which specifically address one or more of the following key themes:
Trends in the UK and Europe
What are the recent trends in party membership? Are the trends uniform in the UK and Europe? Are the trends purely temporary or long-term? How do we measure the trends in an era of multi-speed membership? What are the explanations of the trends?
The implications of the trends
What does it mean to be a party member? Do the trends signal any changes in member engagement? What impact do the trends have on party organisation? Do new members differ significantly from long-standing members in their attitudes and behaviour? How is digital technology changing membership?
Parties and social movements
Are we witnessing the rise of social movement parties? In what ways do social movement parties differ from other forms of party? What lessons can parties draw from social movements?
Models of party organisation
To what extent do the trends in membership validate or undermine the various models of party organisation (eg multi-speed, electoral-professional, cadre, franchise)?
In the first instance paper proposers should submit a Title and short Abstract to Patrick Seyd (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 1st.
A selection of the papers presented at the workshop will be included in a subsequent special issue of Party Politics.
Financial support in terms of meals and accommodation – and for young academic/research staff – will be forthcoming.
Kate Dommett – The Crick Centre, University of Sheffield
Paul Whiteley – University of Essex
Patrick Seyd – University of Sheffield.