Introduction: Reviewing and Reassessing Parties

José Ramón Montero and Richard Gunther

in Political Parties

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199246748
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599385 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Introduction: Reviewing and Reassessing Parties

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Some scholars have concluded that the existing literature on parties is sufficient, and that there is little more that can be learned through additional study in the aftermath of a century of scholarly research on the topic. Others maybe led to dismiss further empirical study of parties on the grounds that parties are becoming increasingly irrelevant, since they are failing to respond successfully to a series of challenges, and many of their functions are performed better by less formally organized social movements, by direct contact between politicians and citizens through the broadcast media or the internet, or by innovations in direct democracy; in the view of this group of scholars, parties maybe seen as in an inexorable process of ‘decline’. Finally, there maybe some who have concluded that scholarly research on parties has failed to advance the task of developing rigorous and persuasive theory, and that further efforts along these lines are doomed to fail. Begins by reviewing each of these assertions, and concludes that such negative views are unwarranted. It concludes with a brief overview of the contributions made by the authors in each of the three parts of the book, which examine the core concepts that have guided empirical research on parties (reconceptualizing parties and party competition), their organizational structures (party organization and party models), and the changing and sometimes problematic nature of their relations with citizens in democratic political systems (party linkages and attitudes to parties).

Keywords: attitudes to parties; literature on parties; party competition; party conceptualization; party decline; party linkages; party models; party organization; party theory; political parties

Chapter.  16784 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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