Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview

what are the consequences for the observation and measurement of contextual influence ( Sprague 1976)? If compliant, law-abiding behavior on the part of citizens depends on the distribution of that behavior among others, what are the consequences for the organized coercive efforts of governments to maintain public order and control ( Salert and Sprague 1980; Huckfeldt 1989; Huckfeldt 1990)? How does the micro environment shape the development of public attitudes toward law ( Franklin and Kosaki 1989)? How does the competitive campaign environment affect the dynamics of money raising and candidate interaction ( McBurnett and Kenny 1992)? How does class consciousness affect the potential of social democratic parties to expand the class basis of their support ( Przeworski and Sprague 1987)? If political competition occurs between racial groups within the same party coalition, what are the consequences for racial polarization between parties ( Huckfeldt and Kohfeld 1989)?

These modeling enterprises occur in various modes using various methodologies. Some are aimed at fitting models to aggregate data ( Brown 1991). Others are aimed at exploring aggregate dynamic consequences ( Przeworksi and Sprague 1987; Huckfeldt and Kohfeld 1989). But in every instance they are concerned with the political consequences of interdependence among citizens. In short, the specification of interdependence is not an end in itself. Rather, it serves as a vehicle that makes it possible to move back and forth between levels of analysis. Lacking a specification of interdependence, we are unable to move from the individual back to the aggregate. The analytic journey that culminates in an individual level analysis of political behavior becomes a one-way trip. We develop a more complete understanding of the individual psyche and individual motives, but we are unable to relate these parts to the whole. But interdependent electorates, rather than individual voters, shape the course of democratic politics, and it is the task of contextual hypotheses and theories to specify and explain those politically relevant interdependencies.


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