in: Political studies: The journal of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom, Volume 66, Issue 1, p. 192-208
ISSN: 0032-3217 (print), 1467-9248 (electronic)
Recent work on partisanship has highlighted the role of political parties in rendering democracy and justice widely accessible to citizens. In these recent works, a distinction is drawn between a contemporary conception of partisanship that focuses on fidelity to political parties and a classic conception that emphasises the importance of a civic ethos of active political engagement. I argue that these two conceptions of partisanship are not so disparate if we focus on the role of political parties in promoting civic commitment and contestation. More specifically, I show how a normative account of partisanship can contribute to a defence of a civic ethos of political commitment. I then argue that commitment leads to contestation among both partisans and non-partisans, and that polities lacking active contestation of political commitments are in one significant respect less well off than those societies where there is such contestation.