Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective

By Martin Saiz; Hans Geser | Go to book overview
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Numerous comparative studies on the level of cities and states confirm the hypothesis that party competition is positively correlated with electoral participation ( Agger, Goldrich, and Swanson 1964; Milbrath 1965).
In the case of Chicago, Bradley and Zald have shown that the emergence of the "political machine" very much helped to marginalize the old "economic dominants" and to further the rise of a specialized political elite ( Bradley and Zald 1965).
This accords well with many other findings that have shown that political parties are particularly prone to be very conservative organizations surviving without major reforms under highly variable societal and political conditions. Thus, Lipset and Rokkan have shown that contemporary party systems are still deeply shaped by very outdated (e.g., religious or class-related) societal cleavages ( Lipset and Rokkan 1967). Similarly, Harmel and Janda have found that national parties founded in earlier epochs have preserved lower levels of "organizational complexity" than parties of more recent origin ( Harmel and Janda 1982 50).
See Chapter 5 by Herbert Schneider (on Germany), Chapter 12 by Sabine Kropp (on Russia), and Chapter 11 by Zbigniew Zychowicz (on Poland) in this volume.
Thus, the erroneous prejudice that American parties were very poorly organized (see Harmel and Janda 1982, 52ff.) has at least partially been caused by a too-lengthy ignorance about the local party level.
For the French case, see Prêteceille ( 1968).


Agger, Robert E., Daniel Goldrich, and Bert E. Swanson. 1964. The Ruler and the Ruled: Political Power and Impotence in American Communities. New York: Wiley.

Alford, R. R., and H. M. Scoble. 1968. "Sources of Local Political Involvement". American Political Science Review 62:1192-1206.

Arzberger, Karl. 1980. Bürger und Eliten in der Kommunalpolitik. Stuttgart:Kohlhammer.

Banfield, E. C., and J. Q. Wilson. 1965. City Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Beck, Paul Allen. 1974. "Environment and Party: The Impact of Political and Demographic Characteristics on Party Behavior". American Political Science Review 68:1229-1244.

Bibby, John F., James L. Gibson, Cornelius P. Cotter, and Robert J. Huckshorn. 1983. "Trends in Party Organizational Strength, 1960-1980". International Poltical Science Review 4:21-27.

Black, Gordon S. 1974. "Conflict in the Community: A Theory of the Effects of Community Size". American Political Science Review 68:1245-1261.

Bledsoe, Timothy, and Susan Welch. 1988. "Patterns of Political Party Activity Among U.S. Cities". Urban Affairs Quarterly 23:249-269.

Bone, H. A. 1952. Grass-Roots Party Leadership. Seattle: University of Washington, Bureau of Government Research.


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