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Concepts for Analyzing Political Parties (cont)

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defined as the intensity of psychological identification with the party and as the commitment to furthering its objectives by participating in party activities (Janda 1980b). The italicized "and" distinguishes party involvement from mere party identification by requiring some degree of party activism (voting alone does not qualify). In comparative research, this concept has been measured with several types of variables: severity of membership requirements, membership participation, material incentives, and purposive incentives. Research has shown that these variables tend to intercorrelate and can be combined into a scale of involvement (Janda 1980b).[22]

Membership: The concept of formal membership in a political party has little meaning in the United States (Schlesinger 1991: 152), but it is important in comparative analysis. As Duverger noted, signing one's name to a membership form both signifies and produces commitment to the party (1963: 71). For Duverger, the notion of a "card-carrying" party member reflected his conception of a modern mass (usually leftist) party. He created the "membership ratio"--the number of members to the number of electors--and speculated about its meaning but did not really formulate much theory (p.94). Merkl (1980) compared party members, voters and leaders, and Bartolini (1983) analyzed membership data and membership ratios over time. Bartolini formulated several hypotheses (e.g., party membership is more stable than the party electorate), tested them with data on socialist parties in about a dozen European countries, and found most of them worked better for the pre-war than the post-war period. He concluded that Duverger was reacting to the past and overestimated the role and future of mass parties (pp. 119, 213).

In contrast to Bartolini's pessimism about the future of political parties in contemporary society, Selle and Svåsand (1991) writing a decade later and analyzing a longer time series found that "aggregate membership figures for Western European parties do not show a general decline in party membership" (p.460). Calculating party membership as a ratio to electors, however, Katz computed downward trends for 20 of 29 parties from 1945 to 1984 (1990, 149). Because party members can constrain leaders, Katz concluded that both leaders and members are finding formal membership less attractive, which raises questions about the linkage function of parties (pp.158-159). Lawson's volume on party linkage also drew negative conclusions for the "policy-responsive" linkage function of parties (1980, 21-22). However, Dalton's study (1985) of 742 party candidates in nine countries for election to the European parliament in 1979 compared the candidates' attitudes toward policies with attitudes of party voters interviewed the same year, and contradicted Katz. Overall, Dalton found "substantial agreement between policy views of the Western European public and party elites," and he attributed a large portion of this agreement "to the interactive linkage between voters and parties" (1985, 293).

Incentives: Parties scholars have devoted considerable attention to incentives for party activists (Duverger's "nature" of participation) regardless of formal membership. A starting point for such analysis is Clark and Wilson (1961), who distinguished between "material" (economic benefits), "purposive" (party policies), and "solidary" (social) incentives as motivational factors in all organizations. In parties, these incentives translate into gaining personal benefits, implementing the party's program, or making friends and having fun. Early empirical studies, particularly in the U.S., sought to determine which motivation was dominant. Wilson (1962) said that "professional" party organizations (i.e., city machines) were primarily composed of activists motivated by material incentives, whereas "amateur" organizations had more activists motivated by purposive incentives. In a study of Republican and Democratic county leaders active in their candidate's 1988 presidential campaigns, Bruce, Clark, and Kessel (1991) determined that the purposive or "true believer" orientation predominated within both presidential party groups.

In an influential essay, Wright (1971) elaborated Wilson's distinction into the Rational-Efficient and the Party-Democracy models of political parties (pp.6-7). American parties tend to be Rational-Efficient: concerned with performing their electoral function and winning elections. In contrast, traditional European socialist parties are "more policy-oriented, ideological, and concerned with defining policy" (p.7). Wright believed that specific parties could possess some mix of these models, and he argued that "the development of theory and research on political parties has been hindered by adherence to one or the other" as either-or models (p. 7).

In recent years, the discussion of incentives has revived the distinction between party leaders and their rank-and-file that formed the basis of Michels' "iron law of oligarchy." In simple form, Michels' theory explained how leaders perpetuate themselves in power at the expense of their followers' interests (1962).[23] This distinction has surfaced in rational choice theory in the assumption that leaders seek "office"--which can only come from winning elections--while activists seek

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