The reimagined party

Democracy, change and the public

By Katharine Dommett

The reimagined party


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  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4752-3
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: June 2020
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Political parties, Political parties, Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Advocacy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Media & Internet, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties, Political Manifestos, Society & social sciences / Political campaigning & advertising, Society & social sciences / Political structure & processes


Political parties are an established feature of contemporary democratic politics. For decades, parties have organised government, competed in elections and influenced the way society is run. Yet despite their importance, the status of political parties in society is presently unclear. On the one hand lambasted as duplicitous, self-interested, dogmatic organisations that are in decline, on the other they have been proclaimed as resurgent bodies that are attracting new levels of membership and support.

The reimagined party offers unprecedented insight into public views of parties in Britain. Exploring public perceptions and desires, Katharine Dommett finds that far from rejecting parties, there is ongoing support for party democracy. The book presents evidence of a desire for change in party ethos, introducing the idea of the re-imagined party to explore perceptions of party representation, participation, governance and conduct. Using a mixed-method approach, and presenting hitherto unseen data, the book casts new light on citizen's desires for parties today.


'What do people want from political parties? By combining quantitative and qualitative research Katharine Dommett provides an authoritative answer to this question. People want parties to be more open, inclusive, responsive and principled. This book presents ideas and recommendations of value to party scholars, party leaders and the informed public. The Reimagined Party will be a classic in the party literature.'
Patrick Seyd, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield

'In an era of citizen discontent with partisan alternatives, this timely and thought-provoking study draws on new public opinion data and a deep knowledge of party practices to suggest ways that British parties could change to deliver the representation that Britons want from their parties.'
Susan E. Scarrow, John and Rebecca Moores Professor, University of Houston

'An engaging analysis of the gap between popular perceptions of parties and what they need to do to re-connect with an electorate that hasn't yet completely given up on them. Packed with insights drawn from original research, it sets an agenda which neither we as citizens nor the parties themselves can afford to ignore.'
Tim Bale, Professor of Politics, Queen Mary University of London and co-author of Footsoldiers: Political Party Membership in the 21st Century

'A wonderful, timely and deeply original contribution to the burgeoning new literature on political parties. Asking simply "What do citizens make of political parties today? is both strikingly direct and brilliantly illuminating.'
Colin Hay, Professor of Political Sciences, Sciences Po, Paris

'Katharine Dommett provides a welcome injection of empirical analysis into debates about the future of political parties. Rejecting both the simplistic ideas that parties are universally unpopular, or that there are easy solutions, Dommett carefully analyses the desires of the public and the plausible responses that parties could make using an imaginative mixed methods approach. Dommett presents an empirically and theoretically informed case for reimagined parties rather than a rejection of party democracy, and at a time when debates about the means by which parties take decisions have been reopened, this book will make a welcome and informed contribution.'
Justin Fisher, Professor of Political Science, Brunel University London


1 Public attitudes towards parties
2 Parties, linkage and representation
3 Parties, linkage and participation
4 Parties, linkage and governance
5 Party conduct
6 What do citizens want and can this be realised?



Katharine Dommett is a Senior Lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield

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