Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Political Parties and the State

Political Parties and the State: The American Historical Experience

Martin Shefter
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Political Parties and the State
    Book Description:

    This book collects a number of Martin Shefter's most important articles on political parties. They address three questions: Under what conditions will strong party organizations emerge? What influences the character of parties--in particular, their reliance on patronage? In what circumstances will the parties that formerly dominated politics in a nation or city come under attack? Shefter's work exemplifies the "new institutionalism" in political science, arguing that the reliance of parties on patronage is a function not so much of mass political culture as of their relationship with public bureaucracies.

    The book's opening chapters analyze the circumstances conducive to the emergence of strong political parties and the changing balance between parties and bureaucracies in Europe and America. The middle chapters discuss the organization and exclusion of the American working classes by machine and reform regimes. The book concludes by examining party organizations as instruments of political control in the largest American city, New York.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2122-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Political Parties and States
    (pp. 3-18)

    This book addresses three questions: Under what conditions will strong, disciplined party organizations emerge and dominate politics in a nation or a city? What influences the character of a nation’s parties—for example, the extent to which they are programmatic or patronage-oriented? Finally, under what conditions will the political parties that dominate politics in a nation or a city be subject to attack or otherwise decline? Although this book analyzes the rise, character, and decline of political parties in a number of settings, it focuses upon American politics. The chapters below consider urban political machines to exemplify strong party organizations...


    • CHAPTER 2 Patronage and Its Opponents: A Theory and Some European Cases
      (pp. 21-60)

      A political party may employ one of two basic strategies in its efforts to attract voters, contributors, and activists to support its candidates. It may distribute divisible benefits—patronage of various sorts—to the individuals who support the party. Alternatively, it may distribute collective benefits or appeal to a collective interest in an effort to elicit contributions of money, labor, or votes from its supporters.¹

      Under what conditions are parties likely to pursue one or the other of these strategies? Over the past twenty or thirty years a number of social scientists have addressed themselves to this question, and though...

    • CHAPTER 3 Party, Bureaucracy, and Political Change in the United States
      (pp. 61-98)

      Over the past 200 years, a half dozen party systems have emerged, developed, and decayed in the United States. These successive systems have been distinguished from one another by the issues dividing the major parties, the proportion of the vote each party normally received, and the social composition of each party’s electoral base. Equally important, changes have occurred from one party system to the next in the strength of political parties relative to other public institutions in the United States.¹

      Among the most important institutional changes that have accompanied the emergence of new party systems in the United States have...


    • CHAPTER 4 Trade Unions and Political Machines: The Organization and Disorganization of the American Working Class
      (pp. 101-168)

      The decades following the outbreak of the Civil War witnessed the consolidation of the major organizations through which workers were to make demands upon, and reach accommodations with, other elements of American society during much of the twentieth century: trade unions and political machines. It was during this period that many of the practices and institutions of contemporary “labor relations” emerged: carefully planned and highly organized strikes, collective bargaining between employers and representatives of their employees, the oldest surviving national labor unions, and the American Federation of Labor. At the same time the Republicans and Democrats became entrenched as the...

    • CHAPTER 5 Regional Receptivity to Reform in the United States
      (pp. 169-194)

      Patronage plays a larger role in the politics of most cities and states in the northeastern quadrant of the United States than it does in the western half.¹ In this chapter, I attempt to account for this difference in the character of party politics in major regions of the United States.² I will argue that these regional differences in American politics are an enduring legacy of the way political order was restored in the United States after the Civil War and Reconstruction. The “third” American party system was the central institution through which political stabilization was achieved after the upheavals...


    • CHAPTER 6 Political Incorporation and Political Extrusion: Party Politics and Social Forces in Postwar New York
      (pp. 197-232)

      The movement of new social forces into the political system is one of the central themes in the study of American political development on both the national and local levels. For example, Samuel P. Huntington has characterized the realignment of 1800 as marking “the ascendancy of the agrarian Republicans over the mercantile Federalists, 1860 the ascendancy of the industrializing North over the plantation South, and 1932 the ascendancy of the urban working class over the previously dominant business groups.”¹ And the process of ethnic succession—the coming to power of Irish and German immigrants, followed by the Italians and Jews,...

    • CHAPTER 7 New York City’s Fiscal Crisis: Countering the Politics of Mass Mobilization
      (pp. 233-258)

      The 1975 New York City fiscal crisis was above all a political crisis. Its origins lay in a set of political changes the city experienced in the 1960s, which led municipal expenditures and indebtedness to grow at an explosive pace. And the eruption of the crisis produced a further transformation in the structure of the city’s politics.

      This is not to deny that changes in the city’s demographic and economic base contributed to the problems the municipal government faced. The migration of more than a million poor blacks and Puerto Ricans to New York after World War II placed pressures...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 259-292)
  10. Author Index
    (pp. 293-296)
  11. Subject Index
    (pp. 297-302)