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Concepts for Analyzing Political Parties (cont)

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social cleavages, which "relates to the social make-up of support for individual parties--not to the 'system,' not that is if we follow a definition based on interaction" (p.351). For now, we restrict attention to parties, not to parties as they interact within a political system (Laver 1989). The major dimensions of party systems are discussed later.

Considerable research involving parties' social support was stimulated by the seminal study of Rose and Urwin (1969). They assessed the "social cohesion" of 76 parties in 17 western nations by the degree to which their supporters come from a given region, religion, ethnic group, urban-rural area, or social class. Rose and Urwin found that parties were most cohesive on religion and class, in that order. Analyzing votes cast within regions for 93 parties in 16 Western nations over three elections, Ersson, Janda, and Lane (1985) found that region alone explained most of the variance in party support but also found strong influence of religion and class within regions.[12]

Parties that have broad social bases are assumed to aggregate diverse interests rather articulate specific ones. Presumably, parties differ from interest groups by aggregating rather than articulating interests (Almond and Powell 1966), but this distinction is not ironclad. Jankowski (1988) argued that broad interest groups do better at aggregation than political parties, and some parties rival interest groups in articulation. The narrower the social basis of a party's support, the more likely they are to articulate interests. Most studies of the social bases of party support have simply assumed that structural parties (those with strong bases) articulate structural issues Mair (1989a, 170-171). Some research has confirmed this assumption. The greater the concentration of party supporters from a single region, the stronger the party's opposition to national integration; and the greater the concentration of supporters from a given religion, the stronger the party's position on secularization of society--depending on the religion (Janda 1989).

In their 1967 book, Lipset and Rokkan had also contended that the origins of cleavage resulted in a "freezing" of the European party system such that parties' support in the 1960s reflected their support 40 years earlier. In finding that European parties' electoral strength changed little from 1945 to 1969, Rose and Urwin (1970) supported the Lipset-Rokkan thesis of a frozen party system. For a time, this interpretation of stability in European party politics was accepted, but no longer. Mair (1983) recounted the many studies that demonstrated electoral volatility that occurred since 1970 (see also Maguire 1983 and Pedersen 1983). In some countries, electoral volatility resulted in the systematic loss of support for certain parties, particularly for communist parties (Waller and Fennema 1988) and socialist parties (Piven 1992). Challenging Lipset and Rokkan, Shamir's time series analysis (1984) showed that the party systems were never really frozen in the first place, and Lybeck (1985) contended that the Lipset-Rokkan hypothesis was inherently untestable anyway. However, Mair (1989b) contended that when Lipset and Rokkan discussed cleavages, they were not necessarily referring to specific political parties but to political opponents (e.g., left and right) more generally, which could save their hypothesis. This argument was developed in Bartolini and Mair (1990, 63-65), who analyzed electoral volatility in 303 elections in 13 western European countries from 1885 to 1985 and found a "fundamental bias toward stability" that "became more pronounced over time" (pp.287-288).

Scholars still use the Lipset-Rokkan framework for studying the declining importance of structural cleavages for party support, which some view as party dealignment (Knutsen 1988 and 1989). In their edited collection of studies, Dalton, Flanagan, and Beck (1984) reported the "common theme" of "shifts in the long-term bases of partisan support--party identification and social cleavages" (p.451). In When Parties Fail, Lawson and Merkl (1988) viewed these shifts as evidence of major party decline: "All over the world, single-issue movements are forming, special interest groups are assuming party-like status, and minor parties are winning startling overnight victories as hitherto dominant parties lose the confidence of their electorates" (p. 3). Reiter (1989) reviewed the literature that explained "party decline" according to various independent variables: "affluence, the growth of the state, the catch-all party, neo-corporatism, the mass media, new political issues and cleavages, problems with state performance, or post-industrialism" (p.329). But neither Reiter nor Selle and Svåsand (1991) found systematic evidence of party decline in cross-national, longitudinal data on party support. Wolinetz (1988) said that evidence of party change was more likely to be found in organizational change as parties adapted to a changing environment.

Organizational Complexity and Power

There is very little contact between the vast organizational theory literature and the literature on political parties (Janda 1983).[13] For example, a computer search of the Sociological Abstracts file available in the DIALOGTM online information services found 905 abstracts that mentioned "political party" or "parties" in articles and conference papers from 1980 to 1991, but only three also mentioned "organizational theory" or some variant. Moreover, only two (Deschouwer 1986 and Jankowski 1988) pertained specifically to political parties. Because few comparative party scholars draw on the

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