Southern State Party Organizations and Activists

Southern State Party Organizations and Activists

Southern State Party Organizations and Activists

Southern State Party Organizations and Activists

Excerpt

Many assume the necessity of political parties, or surrogate intermediary organizations, for the practice of democracy in large societies. Often implicit in this assumption is a corollary: the nature of political parties at their grassroots tells much about the health of political parties in democratic societies. Yet, it is difficult to evaluate those assumptions because there is little information about grassroots political parties in the South, or elsewhere in the United States, on a systematic, comparative basis. This book, in part, rectifies the situation by describing and analyzing grassroots political party organizations and activists within the context of contemporary political change.

RESEARCH SETTING

The South is a particularly desirable research site for studying political party activism and change because the region never was, nor is it today, a political monolith (Key 1949; Heard 1952; Bowman and Boynton 1964; Matthews and Prothro 1966). The region has had a variety of political styles, political organizations, and political activists. Also, it is and was a region of significant economic, social, and political change. The South is one of the two regions in the United States having the most significant change in political organization and activity in the past quarter century (Ladd and Hadley 1975, 129-177; Bass and DeVries 1976; Hadley and Howell 1980; Black and Black 1987). Yet, the South today is as distinctive in Republican presidential politics as it was not long ago for the Democrats (Black and Black 1992).

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