Political Activism: New Challenges, New Opportunities

Pippa Norris

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199566020
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577482 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Political Activism: New Challenges, New Opportunities

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  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Behaviour


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This article discusses political activism and provides an overview that highlights four key themes that have emerged during the last ten years. The first two themes are the growing recognition of the importance of the institutional context of formal rules for electoral turnout and the widespread erosion of party membership in established democracies and questions about its consequences. The last two themes, on the other hand, are the substantial revival of interest in voluntary associations and social trust spurred by theories of social capital and the expansion of diverse forms of cause-oriented types of activism. After briefly illustrating some of the literature which has developed around these themes, the article concludes by considering the challenges for the future research agenda in comparative politics.

Keywords: political activism; formal rules; electoral turnout; erosion; party membership; democracy; voluntary associations; social trusts; social capital; activism

Article.  10143 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; Political Behaviour

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