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Devolution and the Scottish ConservativesBanal Activism, Electioneering and the Politics of Irrelevance$
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Alexander Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719079696

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719079696.001.0001

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Banal activism

Banal activism

(p.1) 1 Banal activism
Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

Alexander Thomas T. Smith

Manchester University Press

In a referendum on devolution held in 1997, Scots voted overwhelmingly for a Scottish Parliament. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork grounded in the anthropological tradition of ‘participant observation’, this book explores how Tory activists in Dumfries and Galloway responded to these changes by embracing what it calls banal activism. This term refers to a set of practices that scholars of Western politics tend to overlook because they more often resemble the mundane activities of paperwork and petty bureaucracy. Put simply, local Conservatives reacted to their traumatic defeat at the 1997 general election by burying themselves in paperwork. Devolution has rendered Scotland one of the world's foremost laboratories of constitutional reform and electoral experimentation, and it could therefore provide an important resource for the anthropology of activism, democracy and statecraft. The book also explores the political struggle between local Tories and their opponents over an apparently banal form: electoral boundaries. Moreover, it discusses the local Conservative Party's planning for the 2003 local government and Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Keywords:   Scotland, devolution, politics, elections, electoral boundaries, Scottish Parliament, Dumfries, Galloway, banal activism, Conservative Party

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