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This book aims to explore some of the rich textures of contemporary politics and the dynamism of its practice. Contributors to this volume have been chosen to reflect some of the key areas of political life – the changing nature of politics and its practice, questions of why we participate and what it means, and the way social identities relate to politics. Rather than being a work produced solely by academics, several chapters have been written by activists and campaigners engaged in politics in different ways, targeting different issues and drawing upon a broad palate of political practices. The academic contributions are also diverse, covering different forms of participation, different countries, different social groups and disciplinary perspectives. This book provides a rare, accessible and interdisciplinary discussion of contemporary politics.

Open access
Author: Nathan Manning

This book aims to explore some of the rich textures of contemporary politics and the dynamism of its practice. Contributors to this volume have been chosen to reflect some of the key areas of political life – the changing nature of politics and its practice, questions of why we participate and what it means, and the way social identities relate to politics. Rather than being a work produced solely by academics, several chapters have been written by activists and campaigners engaged in politics in different ways, targeting different issues and drawing upon a broad palate of political practices. The academic contributions are also diverse, covering different forms of participation, different countries, different social groups and disciplinary perspectives. This book provides a rare, accessible and interdisciplinary discussion of contemporary politics.

Open access

This book aims to explore some of the rich textures of contemporary politics and the dynamism of its practice. Contributors to this volume have been chosen to reflect some of the key areas of political life – the changing nature of politics and its practice, questions of why we participate and what it means, and the way social identities relate to politics. Rather than being a work produced solely by academics, several chapters have been written by activists and campaigners engaged in politics in different ways, targeting different issues and drawing upon a broad palate of political practices. The academic contributions are also diverse, covering different forms of participation, different countries, different social groups and disciplinary perspectives. This book provides a rare, accessible and interdisciplinary discussion of contemporary politics.

Open access

This chapter explores the democratic quality of different forms of political participation and invites readers to ponder if citizen engagement in politics always carries a democratic spirit. The terms  participation 1.0  and  participation 2.0  are coined and conceptualized as ideal types that characterize how participation has shifted over the years. Building on these conceptualisations, the chapter then poses some under-researched questions about whether different expectations or underlying values about good citizenship might underpin these two contrasting forms of participation. Rather than assuming that all participation is good for democracy, the chapter invites the reader to consider whether participation has a democratic downside and if there might be a  value divide  between participation 1.0 or 2.0.

Open access
Author: Parveen Akhtar

This chapter discusses some general concerns around declining participation in mainstream politics. This is followed by an examination of British Muslim communities and the role of biraderior kinship-based politics, especially, the impact of biraderi on the political engagement of young British Muslims. The chapter draws on embedded ethnographic research, including informal interviews and participant observation with the Pakistani Muslim community in Birmingham over an extensive timeframe (2005-2014). It is argued that within the broader context of electoral disengagement amongst young people, young British Pakistani Muslims face a further cultural barrier to electoral participation in the form of a hierarchical and patriarchal biraderi system. This system of patronage has served the interests of local politicians and community elders, but worked to disenfranchise young people and women, and in turn suppressed genuine political engagement. The chapter concludes by pointing to signs which indicate the hold of biraderi politics may be lessening.

Open access
Author: Nathan Manning

This chapter highlights the importance of emotions and feelings for understanding electoral (dis)engagement. While high levels of dissatisfaction and electoral disengagement have been registered, many people do still engage with politics. This is happening amidst the demise of a grassroots base to party politics and an undermining of the regulatory and identificatory purchase of social institutions. The chapter explores why the social sciences have broadly ignored emotions when examining electoral politics. It is then argued that social changes may have increased citizens  reliance on emotions and feelings to negotiate an increasingly individualised electoral politics. This is followed by a discussion of recent qualitative research on the political (dis)engagement of white working class people in the north of England. In particular, being attuned to the emotional dimensions of electoral (dis)engagement can help challenge the common assumption that disengaged citizens are necessarily individualised and apathetic by highlighting the critical work of citizens and the failures of political elites to meaningfully connect.

Open access

This chapter is the final contribution from the frontline of contemporary politics. The author discusses her work as Deputy Director of Operation Black Vote – a British organisation which seeks to promote the full and equal participation of Black and minority ethnic (BME) citizens in all parts of civic and political life. The author outlines some of the key inequalities faced by BME citizens and argues that these amount to a democratic deficit. In trying to combat these inequalities, the author discusses a number of highly successful programmes and campaigns run by OBV.

Open access
Author: Nathan Manning

This chapter aims to provide a general introduction to the text through a discussion of the changing nature of contemporary politics. In particular, the chapter maps some of the key social changes since the 1960s which have fundamentally altered our understanding and practice of politics. The chapter also outlines the structure of the volume.

Open access
Author: Andre Banks

This chapter provides the first of three accounts of contemporary politics from the frontline. The author discusses his work as Executive Director of the organisation All Out. A transnational group working to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world. All Out uses online organising strategies to build a global membership that directly contributes power and resources to local organizations fighting against various forms of discrimination. The organisation has a genuinely global orientation, is  digitally native , politicises aspects of identity, particularly gender and sexuality, and seeks to mobilise networks of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans people and their straight allies to take action at a range of targets which include international organisations, corporations and governments. The author discusses elements of his political biography and provides insights into All Out s approach and recent campaigns.

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The changing nature of the ‘political’
Editor: Nathan Manning

In what ways is the meaning and practice of politics changing? Why might so many people feel dissatisfied and disaffected with electoral politics? What approaches do political activists use to raise issues and mobilise people for action? What role does the internet and social media play in contemporary citizenship and activism? This book brings together academics from a range of disciplines with political activists and campaigners to explore the meaning of politics and citizenship in contemporary society and the current forms of political (dis)engagement. It provides a rare dialogue between analysts and activists which will be especially valuable to academics and students across the social sciences, in particular sociology and political science.

Open access