Is Party Identification an Epiphenomenon? Sources of Stability and Change in Party Systems.

10.05.2023 - 16:00 to 17:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231/230
Type of Event : 
MZES Public Lecture
Richard Johnston
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of British Columbia

In many party systems, the dominant trends have been increasing volatility of electoral behaviour and fragmentation of the vote. This occurs against a theoretical backdrop that privileges individuals’ identification with parties (PID) as the key factor in stability. Its strength in individuals brings stability in the aggregate. The key source is Philip Converse’s landmark essay, Of Time and Partisan Stability. Instability must indicate dealignment and the growing irrelevance of the core concept. This argument privileges psychological factors, within families across generations and over the life course within individuals. Even accounts that look to sources of change outside individuals emphasize enduring changes in the psyche. Against this pattern, however, other political systems have seen increases in stability. The US is a case in point. Most accounts of dealignment originated in that country in the 1970s. Now, the operative term to describe the US system is calcification.

During this public lecture, Richard Johnston will talk about the heritability of PID as a product of external forces. He argues that, besides only a few countries, the variation of the perceived heritability of PID originates from a diversity of partisan cues from society at large instead of an intrinsic propensity to inherit PID. Furthermore, he comments on the development of PID over an individual's life course, showing that although partisan commitment does all it is said to do, including to motivate cognition, there is still considerable variation between political systems, such as individual stability requires stability in contextual factors.   

Everybody interested is cordially invited.

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