City Research Online

The Labour Party's commonwealth : an analysis of discourses on political community in the 1930s

Knowles, Caroline (1981). The Labour Party's commonwealth : an analysis of discourses on political community in the 1930s. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, The City University)


This dissertation develops a method for the analysis of political discourse from the work of Foucault which it uses to construct the Labour Party in the 1930s, in a specific relation to the issues of antisemitism and Indian independence. These issues are chosen because they are some of the issues in which a conception of race is posed in the implicit and explicit discourse. The central thrust of the investigation is to establish the ways in which the notion of political community is constructed in these particular discourses, and then assess the extent to which this informs constructions of race. It has been possible to develop a method for 'reading' political statements which asks how a particular position was arrived at, its conditions of formation. Two of the key mechanisms in this are constraint and structuring mechanism. This is a way of designating the factors which limit the range of political possibilities in the issue of statements. Through this method of reading it has been possible to construct the Labour Party as a discoursing institution from the variety of positions offered to it as definitions of particular issues. It. has been possible to determine which positions it chose to sanction as official and which it chose to reject. A close examination of official and unofficial statements facilitates a number of comments on the ideological nature of the positions which the Labour Party chose to sanction and those which were unacceptable to it. The Labour Party's definitions of Indian independence reveal its conceptions of commonwealth. As a key institution in defining the British commonwealth it awarded India second class status as a political community, through an independence constitution which did not enfranchise the majority of its population. On the issue of anti semitism the Labour Party revealed itself to be unable to countenance a multi racial political community by posing Fascism and anti semitism as separate issues, the former to be challenged by the Labour movement, the latter to be eased by Zionism. The conclusions consider the extent to which constructions of race have changed and then what might be the contemporary relevance of these historical debates in the study of race.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Departments: Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
[thumbnail of 259433.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (194MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login