Dr Robin Pettitt is Senior Lecturer at Kingston University - London. He specialises in the internal life of political parties and is currently investigating how parties recruit and retain their activists.
Dr Pettitt's main area of expertise is political parties, especially membership influence on policy making. A particular area of interest has been left wing parties with a formal commitment to intra-party democracy and how this has worked out in practice.
His research focuses on political organisations that serve as conduits between civil society and the state, particularly political parties. His interests have been largely based on national politics, but he is moving into the politics of representation at the EU level. Dr Pettitt also has an interest in the uses and abuses of marketing techniques in politics and in research methodology.
Previous research has focused on the obstacles to membership influence on party policy and how these can be overcome. One main area of attention has been the role of the party conference as a platform for membership dissent. In this context he has carried out extensive work on the Labour Party conference and how it has been managed by the party leadership so as to present a united front to the media and thereby the wider electorate. He has investigated the way in which the agenda is controlled, speakers groomed and how both individuals and other groups within the party membership have tried to break leadership control of the conference. He also has an interest in how the Labour Party conference has changed its nature during the party's history.