Popular Legitimacy and Public Privileges: Party Organizations in Civil Society and the State

Peter Mair

in Party System Change

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780198295495
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599804 | DOI:
 Popular Legitimacy and Public Privileges: Party Organizations in Civil Society and the State

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This is the second of two chapters on political party organizations and party systems. It discusses political party organizations in civil society and the state, with reference to western Europe. Although the study of parties and party systems is one of the largest and most active subfields within comparative politics, very little empirically grounded study has been made of parties as organizations, and there are severe limits to the comparative understanding of precisely how party organizations work, how they change, and how they adapt. This chapter looks at some of these issues. The discussion is presented in five sections: (1) New Perspectives on the Development of Party Organizations; (2) Party Democracies and the Problem of Party Decline; (3) Parties and the State; and (4) Changing Parties; and (5) Parties and Their Privileges –– a brief examination of the imbalance between popular irreverence and public privilege cited by Tocqueville as contributing to the downfall of the French ancien regime, but here applied to political parties.

Keywords: civil society; development of party organizations; party decline; party democracies; party organizations; political parties; popular legitimacy; public privileges; state; western Europe; western party systems

Chapter.  14152 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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