Acta Politica

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 179–197 | Cite as

Lifestyle politics and the concept of political participation

Original Article


Van Deth’s comprehensive ‘conceptual map of political participation’ has reinstated a lively debate about the concept of political participation, and provides some compelling solutions to it. However, an important question that has been raised is whether van Deth’s map actually achieves its main goal of unambiguously identifying and classifying emerging, complex types of participation, like online political activism – or lifestyle politics. To contribute to this debate, this article aims to evaluate the usefulness of van Deth’s approach for the analysis of lifestyle politics. Such an evaluation requires a clear classification of lifestyle politics. This, however, is still missing from the literature. The second aim of this article, therefore, is to identify and classify different types of lifestyle politics. On the basis of a literature review, this article argues that lifestyle politics are often enacted throughout different private, public and institutional arenas, and that they are often targeted at various social, economic and political actors at once. Applying van Deth’s conceptual map to these empirical realities, then, suggests that it cannot always account for their complexity sufficiently. Therefore, this article proposes a modification of van Deth’s framework that increases its usefulness for analyzing emerging, complex political participation repertoires.


political participation lifestyle politics political consumerism 



I would like to thank the reviewers of this journal and all participants in the Conceptualizing Political Participation Conference, September 2014, Mannheim, Germany, for their insightful comments to earlier versions of this article. Special thanks to Yannis Theocharis for helping with refining the article’s argument. This article was written with support of the European Research Council, project 295920 (Democratic Linkage).


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Media, Movements and Politics (M2P), University of AntwerpAntwerpenBelgium

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