Susan E. Scarrow
The mass party was an enduring and influential invention of the late nineteenth century, but by the end of the twentieth century it seemed like an increasingly imperilled form. As Maurice Duverger's (1963) classic portrayal tells us, in many countries political life was once transformed by the creation of such parties. They constructed nationally networked membership associations which cultivated political identities and mobilized newly enfranchised populations. This organizational style originally most appealed to the left, but the mass party's successful techniques soon were emulated and adapted by parties across the political spectrum. Because mass parties emphasized enrolment and political education, and because they encouraged citizens to extend their political involvement beyond merely voting, they broadened the realm of citizen politics and provided concrete links between politicians and those they claimed to represent.
Although Duverger's account of mass parties has been widely accepted as a description of political developments during the first half of the twentieth century, other scholars soon questioned Duverger's assessment that the mass party was becoming the dominant organizational form. As early as the 1960s, Otto Kirchheimer (1966) and Leon Epstein (1980) argued that the popularity of this organizing style had begun to wane, sidelined by changes in society and technology. Subsequent developments have only strengthened the case against Duverger's prediction of mass party dominance. They have not, however, settled the question of how party organizations will change, and in particular, of how parties that once pursued large enrolments will treat the remnants of these organizations. At the extreme, some predict an 'Americanization' of party life that will spell the
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Publication information: Book title: Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies. Contributors: Russell J. Dalton - Editor, Martin P. Wattenberg - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford, England. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 79.
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