Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Chapter 14
Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey (New York: The Free Press, 1980)
Chapter 14: Validating the Conceptual Framework (pp. 135-161), p. 135
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(Text below as published in 1980 citation above)

AS NATURE ABHORS a vacuum and reacts by rushing air into the void, so social scientists respond to a lack of data by producing conceptual frameworks. This phenomenon accounts for innumerable pages in professional journals, especially in the comparative politics literature. While some conceptual frameworks actually stimulate research and a rare few survive empirical testing, most lay unnoticed or unused in the dusty pages of bound volumes in the library. In many instances, neglect is appropriate, for what often passes as a "conceptual framework" is a set of vague ideas whose relationship to empirical research and theory construction is camouflaged within opaque sentences in an impenetrable jungle of words. In other instances, neglect is unavoidable. The ideas may be explicit enough, but their demands for data may exceed both the available supply and any prospects for production. Conceptual frameworks in this category cannot be employed in research until the relevant data become available.

This chapter[1] tests the conceptual framework outlined in Chapter 1 and discussed at length in Chapters 3 through 12. The framework for the comparative analysis of political parties was proposed nearly a decade ago.[2] Its ideas for comparing parties were explicitly presented, but its data demands far outstripped the available information. The years since have been spent in collecting the data to test the framework. Summarized in Chapters 3 through 13, the data are reported in detail in Part Two. The purpose of this chapter is to analyze these data in testing the utility of the parent conceptual framework. It assesses the applicability of the framework (in terms of quality and quantity of data collected and coding reliability) and the validation of the framework (in terms of standard criteria of measurement validity).

The definition of a political party used in the ICPP study is given in Chapter 1. Each of the 158 parties was scored separately (whenever possible) for its characteristics in the first part of the period (1950-1956) and in the second part (1957-1962). Because not all parties existed in both parts and not all variables could be scored separately by time periods, some complexities arise in the numbers of cases supporting the data analysis. Briefly, the analysis breaks down as follows: (1) 158 cases are used for analyzing those variables scored over the entire 1950-1962 period, and (2) 282 cases are used for analyzing variables scored separately for 1950-1956 and 1957-1962. This number was arrived at by combining the parties that existed for the first part--135--with those that existed for the second part--147. A breakdown of party existence by area is given in Table 14.1. It can be seen that all of the Anglo-American, Western European, and Eastern European parties existed in both parts of the time period, but fewer than half of the parties in Central America and Africa south of the Sahara did so. A more extensive analysis of party continuity and change--from 1950 through 1978--is the subject of Chapter 15. Here we shall only note that the set of 282 cases supporting our data analysis "double counts" those 124 parties existing in both periods, which means it is weighted toward Anglo-America and Europe. Almost identical results, however, would have been obtained by conducting separate analyses for 1950-1956 and 1957-1962, whereas twice as much effort would have been required to present and read the findings.

It is important to emphasize the extraordinary heterogeneity in the sample of parties to be analyzed. Not only do they range across ideological spectrums and represent extremes in organizational characteristics, but they also differ dramatically in their orientations toward politics and in their cultural settings. One school of thought would argue that such a collection of disparate entities called "parties" is nothing more than a stew of apples and oranges and that little can be expected from any effort at "comparing," say, the German Social Demo-

1. I wish to thank Robin Gillies and Michael Ward for their comments on an earlier version of this chapter that led to several improvements.
2. The conceptual framework first appeared in Kenneth Janda, 'The International Political Parties Project," a paper prepared for delivery at the 1969 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, New York. It was subsequently published with minor revisions as 'A Conceptual Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Political Parties," Sage Professional Papers in Comparative Politics, Series 01-002 (1970).

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