Centre for Democratic Engagement: Political Canvassing, Communitas and Knowledge Exchange – ethnographic observations from GE19 in Sheffield Hallam

Dr Richard Axelby (SOAS – University of London) will present this paper on his research about canvassing as a form of political communication.


Canvassing – also known as door-knocking – is the most immediate, direct and unmediated form of political communication. In the run-up to the 2019 UK General Election, I joined representatives of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties to observe canvassing operations in the constituency of Sheffield Hallam. Applying Victor Turner’s concepts of liminality and communitas to the campaign trail, this talk considers the mobilisation of communities of belief and action, the motivating role of gossip and humour, and asks how claims to knowledge about voter intentions are collected, aggregated and translated into social and political capital over the course of the campaign.

This event will take place within the Centre for Democratic Engagement MS Team.

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