Party members as part-time marketers

Using relationship marketing to demonstrate the importance of rank-and-file party members in election campaigns

Authored by: Peter Van Aelst , Joop van Holsteyn , Ruud Koole

Routledge Handbook of Political Marketing

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415579933
eBook ISBN: 9780203349908
Adobe ISBN: 9781136597442


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Modern election campaigns consist of two elements: a centralized media campaign around the leadership of the political party and a campaign involving the participation of active party members or campaign activists. The literature on parties and campaigns emphasizes the importance of the first element, the media campaign, while at least until recently downplaying the importance of members. Political marketing literature itself has paid little attention to the role of members. This chapter will address that omission by combining insights derived from relationship marketing with ideas on party members and grassroots campaigning. Using the concept of part-time marketers, we demonstrate the potential importance of party members in modern or postmodern election campaigns. This will be illustrated through a case study of Dutch parties and party members.

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