Title page for ETD etd-454016449701231


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Allan, James P.
Author's Email Address James.Allan@uconn.edu
URN etd-454016449701231
Title The British Labour Party in Opposition, 1979-1997: Structures, Agency, and Party Change
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Taylor, Charles Lewis Committee Chair
Davis, Rebecca H. Committee Member
White, Stephen K. Committee Member
Keywords
  • electoral performance
  • The Labour Party
  • structure and agency
Date of Defense 1997-04-24
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
The British Labour Party has spent eighteen

years in opposition since 1979. During that time

it lost four consecutive general elections to the

Conservative Party. In 1997, however, it now

looks set to win its first election since 1974.

This thesis examines the Labour Party in

opposition since 1979, using a theoretical

framework informed by Anthony Giddens'

structuration theory. Based on a dialectical

notion of the structure and agency linkage, a

two-tiered framework is constructed which at

one level views a political party as consisting of

a set of structures which can constrain and

enable party leaders in their attempts to make

the party electorally successful, and at another

level the party is regarded as a collective agent

in its own right, which in turn is subject to the

effects of larger external structures. By

comparing the strategies adopted by the

Labour Party and its leaders since 1979, the

thesis demonstrates that the apparent recovery

in the Party's electoral fortunes has

corresponded with an increase in the ability of

agents to successfully negotiate structural

constraints, whilst taking advantage of enabling

structures. However, it is also clear that the

transformation of Labour into an electorally

viable party in 1997 is not solely the product of

agency in the period since the last election;

rather, it is the culmination of a longer-term

process of party change.

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