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New forms of political expression are often taken as further evidence of the 'cultural turn' within contemporary societies. Taking two recent cases – the use of popular culture in the election campaigns of British political parties (and particularly the Labour Party) and the so-called 'Carnival Against Capital' of June 18th 1999 – this article argues for caution in assuming that such cultural modi vivendi necessarily require culturalist forms of explanation and analysis. Weargue that both established political parties and extra-parliamentary social movements have found new opportunities for political communication and mobilization through media and information technology (particularly the Internet). However, the resource and organizational problems they confront remain the same, as does the familiar instrumental rationality of their actions. Rather than leading us to abandon established analytical tools such as political intermediation, political opportunity structures or resource mobilization, shifting opportunities and conditions require the adaptation and extension of such concepts. In this spirit, we attempt to offer an analysis of the cultural mode adopted by parties and movements without losing sight of their broader goals and motivations.
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Keywords: MEDIA; NEW POLITICS; PARTIES; POPULAR CULTURE; SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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