The Individiualisation of Party Politics: The Impact of Changing Internal Decision-Making Processes on Policy Development and Citizen Engagement

December 23, 2013 by Anika Gauja

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This article examines the changing nature of the connection between citizens, party members and elites in the creation of party policy through the theoretical prism of individualisation. Using qualitative case studies of recent policy-making initiatives in the Australian Labor Party and the UK Labour Party, the article develops a new model of policy transferal that is not built upon the mass-party model of parliamentary politics, but rather upon organisational evolutions such as community consultations, online participation and supporters' networks. These evolutions, or reforms, typically emphasise the individuality of policy-making and accountability, promote new technologies for facilitating decision-making, and attempt to engage with a new style of politically active citizen. Each of these developments carries implications for how political parties facilitate participation, accountability and responsiveness in modern forms of representative democracy.