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Paradoxes of the Cyber Party: The Changing Organizational Design of the British Labour Party

  • Emmanuelle Avril
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Based on a longitudinal and in-depth study of the Labour Party from the early 1990s, as well as on a more general analysis of democratization linked to the use of new technologies, this chapter uses the multidisciplinary conceptual framework of organizational studies to highlight some of the ambiguous effects of the Internet on party organization. What do the changes and difficulties met by the Labour Party tell us about its ability to redesign itself so as to better “connect” with the voters? To what extent is the Obama-inspired people-centered, high-tech, decentralized ground campaign – epitomized by party activists updating databases on their tablet or smartphone in real time – the symbol of an empowered grassroots? The chapter begins with an examination of the two intertwined strands of the contemporary ground campaign, which has become both data- and people-driven, leading to a general assessment of the changing design of the Labour Party which shows how it is that, while it is widely acknowledged that current party structures are no longer sustainable, ill-thought-out organizational innovations can turn out to have detrimental effects on party unity and coherence. As political parties compete with other organizations for the attention of citizens, they are seen to adopt new organizational designs and mobilizing tools, triggering a chain reaction which cannot be fully controlled.

Keywords

British Labour Party Ground campaign Online campaign Party members and activists Supporters Big data GOTV Community organizing 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Sorbonne NouvelleParisFrance

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