Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Chapter 8
Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey (New York: The Free Press, 1980)
Chapter 8: Autonomy (pp. 91-97), this is p. 91
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(Text below as published in 1980 citation above)

ANDERSON BROADLY DEFINES "autonomy" as "the degree to which organizations function free of others and thus generally occupy an independent place in society." He points out that students of party organization are interested in two facets of autonomy: "the independence of particular organizations relative to nonparty groups and organizations, and the independence of particular units relative to other units within the overall party organization" (1968, p. 391). In the ICPP project, interest in autonomy is limited to the first facet; however, "nonparty" should be interpreted to mean "extraparty" groups, which allows for parties that are dependent on other parties. Anderson's definition seems close to Huntington's usage of autonomy in the sense of "the development of political organizations and procedures which are not simply expressions of the interests of particular social groups." However, Huntington's usage is so broad that he requires autonomous organizations to "have their own interests and values distinguishable from those of other social forces." For instance, a political party "which expresses the interests of only one group in society--whether labor, business, or farmers--is less autonomous than one which articulates and aggregates the interests of several social groups" (1965, p. 401).

I prefer to limit the concept of autonomy to structural linkages rather than to shared values and interests. Therefore, we define autonomy as a party's structural independence from other institutions and organizations, whether in or out of the country. This concept becomes especially important in cross-national research, which involves parties with widely different relationships to their social and political environment and consequent differences in freedom to act and constraints on action. We propose to measure this concept through five basic variables, largely as suggested by Huntington:

7.01 -- Source of Funds
7.02 -- Source of Members
7.03 -- Source of Leaders
7.04 -- Relations with Domestic Parties
7.05 -- Relations with Foreign Organizations
Basic Variable 7.01: Sources of Funds*

A main indicator or organizational autonomy is the extent to which the organization relies on extraparty sources of funds for operation. The most autonomous party would be one that relied entirely on its internal operations for financing, which it might do through a combination of party dues and party enterprises, such as income from businesses, investments, or sale of publications. The least autonomous party would be one which depended on contributions from some specific institutional sector of society, for example, labor unions, business, military, church, and education/scientific. Between these two extremes would be parties which were guaranteed government funds through legislation to finance party activities.

Although it is difficult to obtain information on the proportions of funds that come from extra- and intraparty sources, variations in financing from both sources need to be considered. Heidenheimer advises that true "membership" parties are those which can cover about two-thirds of their expenses with membership dues, and he notes that most major parties in Western countries get around 20 percent or less of their operating funds from membership dues (1963, p. 793). Our operationalization of extent of support is based on his observations.

Operational Definition. We employed a somewhat unusual coding scheme for this variable and others in the "autonomy" cluster. In addition to scoring the party on the proportion of funds obtained from extraparty sources, we code the nature of the extraparty sources. Therefore, two coding values are assigned. The first is the scale position as presented below, with the high value indicating autonomy.


Two-thirds or more of the party's support comes from a single institutional sector of society.


Two-thirds or more of the party's support comes from two sectors of society.

'John C. Thomas assisted in writing this section.

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