Publication Type: Journal article / chapter
Authors: Emma Crewe
In this journal article in Ephemera, Emma argues that from an anthropological perspective politics is a form of work that involves political struggles in the face of difference. The discipline of anthropology has the potential to offer rigorous and in-depth accounts of politics by relying on reflexivity, attention to plurality and multi-disciplinarity. Within political institutions in democracies, these struggles take place in different sites but a key one is political parties and yet these complex coalitions have been relatively neglected within anthropology. To understand political parties it makes sense to go beyond the aggregation of individual behaviour or investigation into coalitions as systems, structures or culture, to look at relationships, processes of relating and change in these relations. To make sense of the endless contradictions and dynamism created by these relationships, it is necessary to focus on those patterns that reveal how politicians are similar and divergent. The key ones influencing political work, including that of political parties, are rhythms of performance, riffs of meaning, and rituals and symbols.