Political Parties and Party Systems

By Alan Ware | Go to book overview

CONCLUSIONS

Although many of its practitioners refer to political science as a discipline, it may be questioned whether it really is that. Unlike economics, for example, there is no single set of assumptions about the behaviour of the actors in a system that is accepted by all analysts; the common frameworks utilized by the vast majority of economists have no counterparts in political science. On the contrary, the study of politics has been strongly influenced by many other 'disciplines'--economics, sociology, social psychology, philosophy, history, law, and, more recently, feminist studies. In some cases, as with the behavioural revolution in the 1950s and, more recently, with rational choice analysis, some of those advocating the adaptation of particular analytical frameworks from other fields have seen these frameworks as capable of transforming the whole basis of the study of politics. Utilizing them, their proponents argued, would make possible the creation of a genuine political science--a discipline that could hope to rival the physical sciences in the rigour of its causal explanations. Alas, such projects have come to nought! Political science remains a 'market-place' in which different analytic frameworks and different approaches compete with each other, without any of them ever becoming dominant.

That judgement is reinforced by the evidence from the examination of parties and party systems in this book. In the Introduction I said that a number of the topics to be considered in subsequent chapters had been studied from one or more alternative approaches--approaches which I called 'sociological', 'institutional', and 'competitive'. It should have become clear by now that no one of these approaches is demonstrably superior to the others. Rather what each has to offer varies with the subject under consideration. Moreover, as was seen when considering the question of 'why party systems differ' (in Chapter 6), it would seem that the utility of a particular approach may depend on the kinds of linkage evident between voters and parties in the particular countries under consideration. (In this case the institutional approach becomes more useful when social solidarity is no longer the main factor binding voters to parties.)

That there have been alternative approaches employed by different researchers has contributed enormously to our understanding of party systems. The early disputes between 'institutionalists' and 'sociologists' have now generated

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Political Parties and Party Systems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • List of Tables xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • About This Book xvi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parties 15
  • Chapter One - Parties and Ideology 17
  • Chapter Two - Supporters, Members, and Activists 63
  • Chapter Three - Party Organizations 93
  • Chapter Four - Parties in Non-Liberal- Democratic Regimes 124
  • Part II - Party Systems 145
  • Chapter Five - The Classification of Party Systems 147
  • Chapter Six - Why Party Systems Differ 184
  • Chapter Seven - Stability and Change in Party Systems 213
  • Chapter Eight - Party Systems in Non- Liberal-Democratic Regimes 245
  • Part III - Moving towards Government 255
  • Chapter Nine - The Selection of Candidates and Leaders 257
  • Chapter Ten - Campaigning for Election 289
  • Chapter Eleven - Voter Choice and Government Formation 317
  • Chapter Twelve - Parties in Government 349
  • Conclusions 377
  • Appendix 1 - France 383
  • Appendix 2 - Germany 388
  • Appendix 3 - Great Britain 391
  • Appendix 4 - Japan 395
  • Appendix 5 - United States 398
  • Notes 404
  • Index 417
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