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Conclusion (cont)

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broad confederation of individual studies and research emphases with a tenuous relationship to one another than it is a highly focused, clearly demarked or well-integrated subfield of the discipline" (p.138). In a section on "The Search for Theory," he characterized the American research as "self-consciously empirical and atheoretical" (p. 145). He saw special promise in the work of Schlesinger and said, "The more theoretical applications and conceptual developments that are attempted, the more models generated and explanations advanced, the better it will be for a field that has not been known for the quality or variety of its theorizing" (p.148).

I agree with Crotty that research on American parties can benefit greatly from closer attention to theoretical applications, and there are other American theorists besides Schlesinger and Downs. Kamens (1989), for example, has proposed a theory of party development to account for the paradox that U.S. parties have grown stronger organizationally since the 1960s while becoming less important as vehicles for mass mobilization. His explanation focuses on the nationalization of politics and shifts in culture with the rise of higher education and the mass media. Nevertheless, there are many more examples of theorizing about parties in the comparative literature than in the American literature. For instance, I have already cited theoretical efforts by Duverger, Katz, Strom, and Budge and Keman. There is also Ware's flow-chart model of party behavior (1987, 108), Panebianco's theory of party transformation (1988, 262-273), the theories of candidate selection analyzed by Gallagher and Marsh (1988), Hamilton's well-developed model of determinants of socialist party radicalism (1989, 30-31), the exposition of coalition theory in Laver and Schofield (1990), and Schlesinger's theory of the multinuclear party (1991, 151-172). Party scholars can lament the lack of party theory no longer. Our challenge now is to assimilate, develop, and extend existing theory rather than wait for a general theory to descend from on high. Even if students are primarily interested in U.S. party politics, they could sharpen their analytical skills and theoretical insights by paying more attention to comparative political parties and by reading the European literature.


1. Virtually all those surveyed reported that they were familiar with the American Political Science Review (99%) and the Journal of Politics (91%).

2. LaPonce shows that all national journals are basically ethnocentric, with the British Journal of Political Science least so. Nevertheless, in a comparison of British and American journals, Crewe and Norris found that "the proportion of American political scientists reading U.K.-based journals was two and a half times the proportion of British political scientists who read U.S.-based journals' (1991, 526).

3. Neumann's formal definition of a political party was "the articulate organization of active political agents, those who are concerned with the control of governmental power and who compete for popular support with another group or groups holding divergent views" (p.396)

4. Ware (1987: 17) failed to recognize that "government" means "public office" in the United States in the context of this definition.

5. However, Schlesinger takes the opposite position: "I would argue that the compulsion to seek an all-inclusive definition of parties blinds us to the great varieties and types of political organizations that the restricted view allows us to identify in democracies, and therefore, the crucial distinctions that should be made between them" (1991, 203).

6. Intercorrelations among indicators of age, leadership competition, legislative stability, and electoral stability produced a single factor solution for 150 political parties and a scale with a Cronbach reliability coefficient of .79 (Janda 1980b, 143-144, 155).

7. Given the proliferation of parties in the former communist countries, one needs a reference guide to party politics, and some have already been published. Szajkowski (1991) listed more than 500 parties in 12 countries in the region, and other books by Pribylovskii (1992) and Abramov and Darchiyev (1992) described hundreds of parties and proto-parties in Russia alone.

8. Panebianco credited this distinction to an analytical framework proposed by Eliassen and Svåsand (1975).

9. Laver and Schofield actually listed another technique, dimensional analysis of parliamentary roll call votes, but this method has been primarily limited to party analyses in single countries, not in cross-national analysis.

10. In contrast to the traditional "proximity" theory of voting proposed by Downs, an alternative "directional" theory is proposed by Rabinowitz, Macdonald, and Listhaug (1991). This theory assumes that political issues are bipolar, and that voters decide according (1) to the direction of their preference and (2) to the strength of their preference. "Similarly, parties advocate different directions of policy and present them with different levels of intensity" (p.149). Given a voter slightly left of center, "proximity theory predicts a preference for the party nearest the center, while directional theory predicts a preference for a party farther away" (p.150). See also Macdonald, Listhaug, and Rabinowitz (1991).

11. Charlot (1989, 353) credits Seiler (1986) for distinguishing between two sequences of party formation. In one, the issue orientation precedes the laying claim to power and the resulting partisan alignment. In the other, the partisan alignment precedes the issue orientation and the laying claim to power. Seiler's work is in French.

12. In a later study of 108 parties in 19 elections over two widely spaced elections, Rose and Urwin (1975) found little support for regionalism as a basis of party cohesion.

13. One early, and lonely, exception is Anderson (1968), who worked to relate the organizational theory literature to the study of state and local parties.

14. Although the study of party organization is better developed in the American literature, even there it is a neglected topic. Epstein (1991) examined 238 articles and research notes published in the American Political Science Review from March 1986 through December 1990 and found only one item, a research note, on extra-governmental party organization.

15. This is similar to Duverger's concept of "community" (1963: 131)

16. The six-item scale for degree of organization (complexity) had a reliability of .82, as measured by Cronbach's alpha. The eight-item scale for centralization of power had an alpha of .83.

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