The Pure Partisan Institution

Byron E. Shafer

in The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542628
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

The Pure Partisan Institution

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  • US Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article concentrates on national party conventions, the ‘pure partisan institutions’ of American politics. First, it identifies the convention within a conceptual framework for analyzing the evolution of the institution itself. It moves on to the practical implications of this evolution, from institutional mechanism to institutional arena. Next, it describes the politics of the contemporary institution, organized around its role as ‘infomercial’. It then explores the changing partisan content of that infomercial, in effect the substance of its message. Moreover, the nature of elite-mass linkages at the convention, as well as their contribution to this message, is addressed. The distinctions that remain among conventions, the place of the generic convention in a larger national politics, and some possible harbingers of further change are finally covered. The convention is in transition as an institution in its own right.

Keywords: pure partisan institutions; American politics; infomercial; convention; national party conventions

Article.  9023 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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