University of Oxford
Happy to see other scholars look into the same problem as I pointed out in my paper… But obviously he did a better job than me.
In Europe a way of thinking about parties has developed that, while not truly ‘excetpionalist’, is certainly ‘regionalist’ in that it focuses on party change largely with respect to the operation of parties within just the European content. Neither side- Americanist nor Europeanist- believes that it has that much to learn from the other.
Despite some developments noted earlier, the study of party organizations remains largely ‘regionalized’. One of the adverse consequences over the last four decades of this ‘regionalization‘ of research on organizational change has been that it has been tended to lead to regional differences in organizational responses by parties being exaggerated or misconceived. For example, it is sometimes said European parties are ‘team sport’ whereas American parties are an ‘individual sport’, as if we were thereby dealing with very different kinds of entity. Some analytic frameworks, such as ‘ambition theory’, had specifically emphasized this aspect of American party politics, of course. Two points may be made about this. First, American party politics, like party politics elsewhere, is ”team sport’, and one cannot make sense of American politics over the last two decades if one sees it purely as a conflict involving individuals. … Secondly, the real point about team sport is that the individual players, and correspondingly limit the ability of a coach or manager to dictate precisely what happens in play.The utility of returning to the kind of comparative framework Epstein, following Duverger, was developing four decades ago is that it enables us to look at how parties operating under different rules of the game respond to changes in their environments that are common to all of them. This is not to argue against the continuation of ‘regionalist’ studies, fort they will surely remain an important source of our knowledge of party organizations. Rather, it is to argue for supplementing such work by the development of analytic frameworks that recognize the significance of all factors that shape how all parties go about organizing their business in democratic. It is time to weaken the grip that ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘regionalism’ have had on research into the party structure.
* Government and Opposition, Vol.46, No.4, pp.411-435, 2011.
Tagged: political Party