DescriptionPolitical parties are central to democratic life, yet there is no standard definition to describe them or the role they occupy. "Voter-centered" theoretical approaches suggest that parties are the mere recipients of voter interests and loyalties. "Party-centered" approaches, by contrast, envision parties that polarize, democratize, or dominate society. In addition to offering isolated and competing notions of democratic politics, such approaches are also silent on the role of the state and are unable to account for organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the African National Congress, which exhibit characteristics of parties, states, and social movements simultaneously.
In this timely book, Cedric de Leon examines the ways in which social scientists and other observers have imagined the relationship between parties and society. He introduces and critiques the full range of approaches, using enlivening comparative examples from across the globe. Cutting through a vast body of research, de Leon offers a succinct and lively analysis that outlines the key thinking in the field, placing it in historical and contemporary context. The resulting book will appeal to students of sociology, political science, social psychology, and related fields.
Part I: Voter-Centered Approaches
1. The Social Voter 19
2. The Partisan Voter 32
3. The Issue Voter 57
Part II: Party-Centered Approaches
4. The Oligarchical Party 75
5. The Functional Party 103
6. The Exclusive Party 124
7. Party, State, and Society 157
Cihan Tuðal, University of California, Berkeley
"Party & Society is a map and a brief. It offers a much-needed guide to the plethora of classical and contemporary perspectives on political parties in both sociology and political science. But it also adds up to an important argument: if sociologically minded students of parties wish to present a robust alternative to 'voter-centered approaches' in accounting for the observable complexities of political life, they would do well to take seriously the idea that parties are by turns cause and consequence of states and societies. This book should be required reading for all political sociologists."
Anthony S. Chen, Northwestern University
- Provides a timely and long-anticipated overview of how to think about political parties and their roles in society
- Offers indispensable introductions to and critical analysis of diverse theories of party-state relations
- Draws on illuminating global examples, from traditional parties of Western democracies, to international groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood
- Concise, academically rigorous and yet clearly and accessibly written, making it highly suitable for students of sociology and political science