Since 1867, annual conferences have been key institutions for understanding the nature and evolution of relationships between leaders and members in British political parties. Although essential for the maintenance of party cohesion and the legitimization of leadership, policies and procedures, conferences have largely been ignored. Based on seven years of participant observation and interviews, this book examines how four political parties in contemporary Britain (Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens) have changed at the turn of the Millennium. This groundbreaking work brings together insights from anthropology and political sociology and opens up new vistas in the study of modern political institutions.

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