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The study of the successive definitions of parties should restore the political and intellectual circumstances in which they are produced. [1]

1The aim of this article is to revisit, from the perspective of the sociology of science, the circumstances of creation and conditions of possibility of two “classics” of political science and political party studies, published in quick succession almost exactly 50 years ago: Political Parties and Political Development (hereafter PPPD), [2] edited by Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner, and Party Systems and Voter Alignments (hereafter PSVA), [3] edited by Seymour Lipset and Stein Rokkan.

2It would probably not be going too far to describe these two duos as standard points of reference for the vast majority of political scientists. The first, “LaPalombara & Weiner”, is synonymous with the minimal definition of political parties as (temporally) durable and (spatially) ramified organizations whose leaders try to wield power rather than influence it, and that compete to win various forms of popular support. [4] The other, “Lipset & Rokkan”, is associated with “cleavage theory”, a genetic model that treats political parties as the expression and translation (more or less direct) of social conflicts arising from two fundamental “revolutions”: “national” and “industrial”. [5] Both collections also contain other well-known contributions to the theory of political parties, such as Giovanni Sartori’s article on the structure of pluralist party systems, [6] or the article in which Otto Kirchheimer introduced the concept of the “catch-all party”. [7]

3Whether we adopt or adapt them, the definitions and models put forward in these works have come to be seen as obligatory elements of an education in political science, particularly for those studying partisan organizations. Both books, therefore, have already been the subject of much discussion and criticism while also continuing to serve as references in all senses of the term, i.e. both indispensable bibliography entries and established models for the definition of political parties that must be acknowledged, even if only to amend or move beyond them.

4However, I would like to leave aside these discussions about the “correct” definition of political parties. Moreover, I will not attempt to answer (at least not directly) the epistemologically important question of whether it is even possible to define the “political party” in scientific terms. [8] My goal is more modest: to trace the sociogenesis of these two specific, contemporaneous definitions. The objective is not to offer yet another evaluation of the relevance of these definitions, but rather to use them to study how certain scientific ideas come to impose themselves definitively as “classics” within political science, or in other words become widely known and appreciated; and so to gain more insight into how the “normal science” of politics and parties comes into being.

5In order to illuminate the social history of these specific definitions, this article will consider them within all their contexts, intellectual and material. In terms of content, the first task is to situate them within the sphere of theoretical discourse, and more generally within the “paradigms” of the political science of their era—principally the so-called “functionalist” approach to politics (in its systemic variants) combined with “behavioralist” approaches. In the confrontation between those who believe that these theoretical developments can be described as “scientific revolutions” in Thomas Kuhn’s sense, and those who think the term is overused in this context, this article is in the former camp. I believe these approaches and their theoretical assumptions have permanently changed the nature of the problems investigated and the type of research carried out by a dominant scientific group, which is indeed one of the defining characteristics of a “scientific revolution” as described by Kuhn. [9] For him, a “paradigm” is first and foremost a set of theoretical models and methodological rules that a given scientific group imposes on and claims for itself (particularly by “labeling” them with more or less stable terms). These theories are presented and used like a set of propositions that can form the basis of a series of scientific “puzzles”, which provide the opportunity for studies and experiments that occupy the group’s members indefinitely as they attempt to solve them. This leads to the consolidation of a “normal science” and the institutionalization of the group engaged in its production. [10] Although these paradigms are sometimes accompanied by “fundamental inventions” in the natural sciences, these are by no means required: paradigms are above all narratives and subjective representations of the world. [11] For a subsequent scientific “revolution” to occur, a rival group must propose new narratives and representations that go against this institutionalized “normal science”, and thereby establish itself (socially) by establishing new paradigms (discursively). Kuhn himself insisted on the importance of this competition between scientific groups as the driving force behind paradigm shifts, which are never caused purely by the internal coherence of the theories involved.


Competition between segments of the scientific community is the only historical process that ever actually results in the rejection of one previously accepted theory or in the adoption of another. [12]

7In this sense, it would be no exaggeration to claim that there was a group of scientists working in political science (and related disciplines) who belonged to the schools of functionalist systemism and behavioralism and created their own theoretical models and methods: “paradigms”. These paradigms established themselves permanently along with their authors, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, but also more widely. This article will show how the definitions and positions put forward in PPPD and PSVA fit into these paradigms.

8But to understand how these volumes were created and the influence they have had, it is not enough to simply situate them in their discursive context; we must also situate their authors within networks of scientific production, a task that is all the more important here because both books were written at around the same time by academic groups with, as we will see, a large degree of overlap. This is the second phase: material as well as intellectual contextualization. By focusing not just on the discursive content of these academic works but also on their creators and their careers, we can reconstruct the social relations that bound all the authors together. We can also, and most importantly, connect them to the wider networks of an “extended paradigmatic group” into which the smaller groups that produced PPPD and PSVA were intellectually and materially integrated.

9Starting with these two specific “book-objects”, we can retrace the interdependent causal sequences and wider patterns—nested systems of contexts—that made their creation possible. The sociology of science is, therefore, also understood here as an “archaeology of knowledge” [13]: it cannot take place without detailed analysis of the theoretical content produced. But the study of this intellectual content is still sociological because knowledge must always be situated in the context of the social relations that made it possible. [14]

10This study is divided into two phases. Each is focused on one of the two “species of space” [15] in which all social action takes place, in particular when that action consists of producing knowledge: the space of meanings and discourses, on one side, and the space of social interactions on the other. We will see that both books are not only anchored discursively in a set of scientific paradigms that give them coherence despite their apparent disagreements and conflicts (Section 1), but also anchored socially in formalized academic groups, based on mutual acquaintance, that give them “social volume” and access to extensive resources (Section 2). The combined consideration of these cognitive and social anchorages within a dominant paradigmatic group will shed light on why these “seminal volumes” were so widely disseminated (and also why some of their chapters were more successful than others).

Two Heterogeneous but Orthodox Works: Harmonious Discords

11These two contemporaneous works have become “classics” of the political science canon. Nevertheless, in general only a tiny part of each is remembered, separated from its original context. Not everything in a classic becomes “classic”, and the disciplinary consecration of PPPD and PSVA has been accompanied by a hierarchization of the chapters contained within them, many of which have been forgotten. If we want to understand the discursive and social contexts that give these scholarly undertakings meaning, we must begin by reconstructing the books as they originally were. This will highlight their differences and discords, but also and above all the common sources of inspiration and shared paradigms that structure them according to a sort of pre-established harmony. [16]

The Composition of Two Book-Objects and Their “Classic” Chapters

12PPPD and PSVA are the fruits of two scientific conferences that took place two years apart. PPPD grew out of a conference attended by 40 researchers in Frascati, Italy, from the 6th to the 9th of January 1964. [17]PSVA originated in two Committee on Political Sociology panels, with 46 participants, that took place at the fifth congress of the International Sociological Association (ISA) from the3rd to the 6th of September 1962. [18] Altogether, the two initial conferences were attended by 80 people, of whom 25 eventually featured in the tables of contents of PPPD and PSVA (Inset 1). [19]

13With a few rare exceptions—such as the chapters by Sartori or Kirchheimer (PPPD) mentioned above, or by Juan Linz or Erik Allardt and Pertti Pesonen (PSVA) [20]—the books are often reduced to simply “LaPalombara & Weiner” or “Lipset & Rokkan”, and thus “disconnected” from their existence as full volumes.

14Of course, it could be argued that this is simply a “natural” process of scientific selection that always takes place during knowledge production. But this article goes in the opposite direction: instead of segmenting and evaluating abstract theories from a normative perspective, it aggregates and describes situated knowledge from a socio-historical perspective. It attempts to re-embed knowledge within its history or histories in order to better understand how it is produced. To do so, it is important to analyze the contributions that “failed” (to anchor themselves and be remembered) alongside those that “succeeded”. Because although the two categories differ in certain, sometimes crucial, respects, they also share some more general paradigms. In order to grasp the works in their entirety, therefore, we must reconstruct the sphere of discursive relations that unites them despite their apparent differences.

Inset 1. Tables of contents of PPPD and PSVA

Political Parties and Political DevelopmentForeword by Lucian W. PyePart I. The Origin and Development of Parties1. Joseph LaPalombara & Myron Weiner: The Origin and Development of Political Parties2. Hans Daalder: Parties, Elites, and Political Developments in Western Europe3. William N. Chambers: Parties and Nation Building in America4. Dankwart A. Rustow: The Development of Parties in TurkeyPart II. Party Systems and Their Transformation5. Giovanni Sartori: European Political Parties: The Case of Polarized Pluralism6. Otto Kirchheimer: The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems7. Immanuel Wallerstein: The Decline of the Party in Single-Party African StatesPart III. Parties and the Crises of Political Development8. Leonard Binder: Political Recruitment and Participation in Egypt9. Stein Rokkan: Electoral Mobilization, Party Competition, and National Integration10. Rupert Emerson: Parties and National Integration in Africa11. Morton Grodzins: Political Parties and the Crisis of Succession in the United States: The Case of 1800Part IV. Parties and Governmental Performance12. Robert E. Scott: Political Parties and Policy-Making in Latin America13. Lucian W. Pye: Party Systems and National Development in AsiaConclusionMyron Weiner & Joseph LaPalombara: The Impact of Parties on Political DevelopmentParty Systems and Voter AlignmentsPreface by Heinz EulauPrologue by Seymour M. Lipset & Stein RokkanIntroductionSeymour M. Lipset & Stein Rokkan: Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An IntroductionPart I. The English-Speaking Democracies1. Robert R. Alford: Class Voting in the Anglo-American Political Systems2. Alan D. Robinson: Class Voting in New Zealand: A Comment on Alford’s Comparison of Class Voting in the Anglo-American Political Systems3. Robert T. McKenzie & Allan Silver: The Delicate Experiment: Industrialism, Conservatism and Working-Class Tories in EnglandPart II. Continental Europe4. Mattei Dogan: Political Cleavage and Social Stratification in France and Italy5. Juan J. Linz: The Party System of Spain: Past and Future6. Juan J. Linz: Cleavage and Consensus in West German Politics: The Early FiftiesPart III. Northern Europe7. Erik Allardt & Pertti Pesonen: Cleavages in Finnish Politics8. Stein Rokkan: Geography, Religion and Social Class: Crosscutting Cleavages in Norwegian PoliticsPart IV. The Emerging Nations9. Joji Watanuki: Patterns of Politics in Present-Day Japan10. Gláucio Ary Dillon Soares: The Politics of Uneven Development: The Case of Brazil11. Immanuel Wallerstein: Class, Tribe, and Party in West African Politics
tableau im1

Disagreements and Discrepancies

15The chapters in PPPD and PSVA come in very different forms. The “classic pieces” that are still remembered today tend to be those that propose theoretical models for defining political parties, but in both books the bulk of the contributions actually consists of a series of historically situated case studies that provide a comparative survey of various national party systems. At first sight, there is nothing to suggest that these heterogeneous collective volumes would go on to become “paradigmatic” works capable of representing the “normal science” of a particular subject (political parties) at a particular time. That they did so is even more surprising considering the major disagreements between even the most theoretical pieces.

16There are at least three serious discrepancies between the positions of the authors of PPPD. First, the definition of parties put forward by LaPalombara and Weiner does not receive unanimous approval. Rupert Emerson, for example, explicitly rejects it and instead takes a nominalist view that “it is probably most convenient to consider as ‘parties’ all political organizations that regard themselves as parties”. [21] The usefulness of even having a precise definition of parties—one of the main things that has made PPPD a “classic”—is called into question within the volume itself on the basis that these “fine distinctions” threaten to “exclude significant manifestations of African political life” as well as the “one-party systems” that proliferate in developing countries.

17This exclusion of “single parties” contradicts another key argument made in the introduction, which is the second point of disagreement between the contributors. Is it really the case that “political parties” only truly exist in pluralist party systems where free, regular elections facilitate the transfer of power, at least in principle? Or can we describe the single parties of authoritarian and totalitarian systems as “parties like the others”, as LaPalombara and Weiner clearly state? For them, contrary to Max Weber’s well-known phrase, [22] parties are not the “children of democracy”, but of “political development” and “modernization”. [23] They are even more unambiguous in their conclusion:


In this volume we have chosen to treat parties, whether in totalitarian or democratic systems, as a generic phenomenon. [24]

19Their position is largely shared by the other authors in the volume. For Lucian Pye, for example, “the political party is uniquely the child of the modern political system—whether democratic or totalitarian”. [25] But other contributors are much more skeptical. According to Morton Grodzins, who refers to Sartori’s chapter for support, “a single party is an altogether different breed of animal from competing parties”. [26]

20Sartori’s contribution, which looks at varieties of pluralism in the democratic nations of Europe, [27] reveals a third point of disagreement, this time regarding the very concept of “political development”. In line with the developmental approach advocated notably by Gabriel Almond, [28] the volume’s principal goal is to try to understand the relationship between political parties and “political development”. But the definition of “political development” poses even more serious problems than that of the “political party”, and even the volume’s editors agree on its ambiguity:


The term “political development“ remains elusive, and we have not attempted any systematic definition. [29]

22So what is this “political development” that supposedly unites the authors of the volume? Can we really compare the “development” of countries that were already developed at the time with that of the “developing areas”? [30] Hans Daalder deliberately pluralizes “political developments” in the title of his chapter, and clearly explains his reasons for doing so. [31] Sartori outright challenges the volume’s tendency to give empirical priority to developing areas by calling attention to the fragile, incomplete nature of democracy even in self-styled “developed” regions. He makes the case for not neglecting case studies of European countries, and even for reversing the volume’s research priorities. [32]

23We could easily continue this in-depth comparative reading of the contributions within each volume, and between both volumes, in order to reveal internal conflicts. We could point to the theoretical fault lines within PSVA, for example: how can Lipset and Rokkan’s complex model (which combines two revolutions, four cleavages, and four cleavage thresholds within the party system, and eight relationships of alliance or opposition between eight ideal-typical political groups [33]) be reconciled with Robert Alford’s more simple model based on his own study of the central role of class? [34] We could also highlight the discrepancies between the two volumes, particularly on the question of the role of the party in the history of “political development”, or more generally of social change: are parties the—more or less direct—product and effect of the complexification of societies and historical developments, as cleavage theory suggests? [35] Or are they actually the causes and agents of change? [36] Or, indeed, should we combine both views like the editors of PPPD, who devote their introduction to parties as the product of “political development” [37] (which they nevertheless refuse to define) and their conclusion to parties as its producers?

24But the goal of this article is not to play a sort of academic “spot the difference” by systematically calling attention to inconsistencies, which are not in themselves surprising. Rather, I have pointed out these discrepancies precisely in order to highlight by contrast the shared paradigms within which such “points of choice” [38] become possible.

Consensuses and Shared Paradigms: An Empiricist Structural Functionalism

25At first sight, the two volumes seem to contain a range of different, not to say contradictory, ways of thinking about political parties. Disagreements, including about fundamental concepts, are numerous. And yet, all these disagreements can be understood in the light of a more profound (because logically prior) consensus that integrates them harmoniously within a shared “discursive formation”. In other words, the differences are in fact organized around certain “points of choice” that mark out a highly regulated “space of dissension”. [39] This agreement to disagree helps make these heterogeneous collections more coherent than they seem, because all their contributions are firmly embedded in the dominant paradigms of their era.

26I do not here have the intention or the space to summarize several decades of controversy in the social sciences, [40] but I would like to try to demonstrate that PPPD and PSVA are paradigmatic examples of two major scientific revolutions [41] in the field of party studies that combined to create the new “normal political science” of the time: “functionalism” [42] (in its “structural-functionalist” [43] and “systemic” [44] forms) on one side, and “behaviorism” [45] (in its “behavioralist” [46] form) on the other. The authors’ general (and more or less explicit) adherence to these combined paradigms is clear through several important aspects.

Parties and Systems: A Generalized Functionalism

27The central concept of “functionalism” (and its variants), according to which objects and social facts respond to specific social needs and fulfil one (or several) functions that give them meaning, [47] is at the heart of all the contributions in PPPD and PSVA.

28Indeed, both volumes are explicitly based on analysis of the functions parties must perform in any given social system, as the introductions to each make clear. For example, LaPalombara and Weiner:


Wherever the political party has emerged it appears to perform some common functions in a wide variety of political systems at various stages of social, political, and economic development. [48]

30Lipset and Rokkan also emphasize this “commonality of function” between all political parties at the beginning of their work. For them, parties perform at least three universal functions: “expressive”, “instrumental”, and “representative”. [49]

31Admittedly, the contributors do not all agree about the exact functions that political parties perform. Each chapter emphasizes a different possible combination: the aggregation and expression of interests, [50] socialization and social integration, [51] political recruitment and the elaboration of public policy, etc. [52] But they do all agree that political parties always have functions (that they may perform more or less well). At least two functions appear in several different chapters. The first is the role that parties are thought to play in linking wider society with the structures of government: all the contributors believe that parties aggregate and express the diverse interests of a society and then transmit those interests to politicians by acting as “transmission belts”. [53] The second function generally attributed to parties in PPPD and PSVS is the social integration of different groups: by expressing and aggregating interests along lines of “political cleavage”, [54] parties help regulate and maintain the system. [55]

32Clearly, this sort of analysis is grounded in the structural-functionalist (Parsonian) form of functionalism, and on its importation into political science, particularly in the work of David Easton and Karl Deutsch on the “political system”. In this view, which is explicit in PPPD and PSVA, if parties fulfil functions in social “systems”, that is above all because they themselves are elements of a political “sub-system” in which they occupy a well-defined (and central) place. The interests they aggregate and express are understood as “inputs”, in Easton’s terminology, that are transmitted from the different systems of social action to the political sub-system, thereby contributing to good governance and the “homeostatic” regulation of the system as a whole. [56] Indeed, Lipset and Rokkan’s entire cleavage theory builds directly on Talcott Parsons’ AGIL paradigm, [57] which serves as a shared theoretical background for all the contributions in both volumes. [58] Parties are represented in PPPD and PSVA as indispensable elements of the political sub-system of any “developed” or “modern” society. [59] Politics is thus understood as a system, or even an organism, which requires certain functions to be performed by ad hoc institutions in order to survive.

33This functionalist view of parties is the shared foundation for both PPPD and PSVA. There are certainly variations within this view regarding the exact functions performed, but this paradoxically makes it possible to reconcile all the apparent contradictions mentioned above into a harmonious whole.

34For example, the question of whether “single-party systems” in authoritarian or totalitarian regimes can be studied alongside parties in “pluralist systems” could only be asked in the context of a functionalist and systemic view of political parties. It is precisely because they believe that political parties perform functions in social systems that most of the authors of PPPD and PSVA see no qualitative difference between “single parties” and “pluralist” parties: both types of party play a role in the organization and mobilization of the masses, the communication of inputs towards the governing center, or the selection of politicians, and thereby help to legitimize the system. [60] But it is also because of their belief that parties have specific functions to perform that some contributors, such as Grodzins or Sartori, oppose this generalization. They never challenge the “functionality” of parties in single-party systems: in those systems too, parties serve to organize the masses or recruit politicians, and so meet social needs. [61] What they do challenge, however, is the reduction of the definition of political parties to their common functions. For these contributors, a party is only a true party if alongside these universal functions it also performs functions specific to “democratic systems”, which implies the existence of several parties (and so a “party system”). In both cases, however, the analysis deals with the functions actually performed by a political organization in a given system, independently of its formal characteristics or internal structure.

35This functionalist framework makes it possible to resolve another apparent contradiction between those who consider parties as the “products” of political development and the complexification of societies, and those who see parties as the “producers” of those political changes. The disagreement here is in fact no more fundamental than the previous one. It results from the decision to study parties within a system that both explains their existence and is explained by them. This mutual relationship is based on another important element of systemic theory: “feedback loops” that serve to regulate the system. Parties are thus seen as both the cause and effect of political development, including in cleavage theory (in their comparative model, Lipset and Rokkan insist on the importance of party elites’ strategic choices in determining historical chains of events [62]).

36Thanks to the functionalist framework within which they take place, disagreements about the definition of political parties and how to study them are to a certain extent “pre-resolved”: the goal is not to define parties in general, but rather the social needs and functions that are fulfilled more or less well by actual partisan organizations in specific systems at specific points in time.

37On that basis, it seems surprising that LaPalombara and Weiner’s “classical” definition of political parties makes no direct reference to the functions that a party is supposed to perform, even though the idea permeates their own work as well as that of all the other contributors. Their minimal definition of parties refers solely to organizational characteristics, without explicitly mentioning the interests that parties are supposed to represent or their role in the system as a driver of social integration.

38This apparent paradox is the result of another peculiarity of the theoretical position advocated by the authors of PPPD and PSVA, namely that their functionalism takes the form of an empiricist version of Parsonian structural-functionalism. Parties are defined minimally based on their observable organizational characteristics because LaPalombara and Weiner, and indeed all the contributors, adhere simultaneously to the paradigms of functionalism and “behavioralism”, the other main approach of the “normal political science” of the period.

Parties as They Are: A Behavioralist Empiricism

39Alongside their allegiance to the paradigms of functionalism, the two collective volumes share another theoretical goal: to apply the paradigms of behavioralism to the study of political parties. This explicitly declared [63] aim resolves other apparent contradictions between the contributors.

40First, this behavioralist aspect explains the very form the volumes take, and their heterogeneity: the choice to present a variety of different empirical case studies makes more sense when understood as a requirement of behavioralism’s “empirical-theoretical” approach. The importance of case studies and data (and the modeling enabled by comparisons of standardized data) is twofold: each volume needs to be able to display as many different case studies as possible in the table of contents so as to demonstrate the breadth of its comparison; and each contribution relies, for its value, on being able to provide empirical data and then extract more or less sophisticated theoretical models from those data. This double requirement is reflected in concrete terms by a profusion of tables of electoral data and theoretical diagrams: [64] the “quality guarantees” that must be provided if a work is to establish itself within the field of “empirical theory”.

41At bottom, the contributions all share the same behavioralist paradigms, and with them an ongoing preoccupation with working with observable empirical data and measurable behaviors (comparisons of electoral results, surveys, the names and composition of political parties, models of historical processes, etc. [65]) rather than abstract rules of law disconnected from empirical reality (voting procedures, divisions of institutional power, etc.). This concern is most “paradigmatically” expressed in the thorough criticism leveled by several contributors against Maurice Duverger’s theories about parties, particularly in the form of an accusation that his generalizations about party systems are based on nothing more than electoral laws and voting procedures. [66] Likewise, elitist theories about parties, starting with Robert Michels’ “iron law of oligarchy”, are openly criticized for being too disconnected from observable reality. Daalder, for example, sees Michels’ “law” as a “somewhat emotional political theory”, both too subjective and too abstract, that relies on “a priori sociological determinism” according to which the voting masses are automatically betrayed by party elites of a higher social class. Daalder points out that this idea can be disproved by specific observable historical situations. [67] These criticisms allow us to precisely situate the contributors of the two volumes within the history of the theory of political parties: the application of functionalist theories and behavioralist paradigms to the study of political parties led to the proposal of new models and criticism of the old (or more recent) “masters” who were rejected by new groups crystallizing around new paradigms. The fact that in these volumes political parties are studied from the perspective of behavioralist empiricism also explains why the authors of PPPD and PSVA are so concerned with providing a definition of parties that refers both to the functions they perform in a social system and to their most common observable characteristics (physical organization, stated allegiances and programs, strategies and electoral alliances, etc.).

42Finally, it should be noted that this sort of research on the functions and observable characteristics of parties is not “gratuitous”: according to its authors, it must have some “social value”. The contributors are clear about the need to improve the predictive capabilities of social facts. Indeed, according to those who promote them, this is what constitutes the value of the “behavioral sciences”, understood primarily as “policy sciences”, [68] i.e. a combination of primary and applied research intended to facilitate “good governance” and to ensure that the political system can respond appropriately to the inputs received from “society”. The systematic comparative study of political parties is, therefore, never purely descriptive. On the contrary, it seeks to develop normative prescriptions based on the predictions it generates. This is very explicitly stated by the authors of PPPD and PSVA, including Sartori:


If political scientists have something different to say from the historians, and something more to say than the social determinists, this is because we are interested in predictions [...]. [69]

44In conclusion, the apparent proliferation of different positions within these volumes actually conceals (and at the same time reveals) a series of points of choice, each representing a set of conceptual alternatives. But these alternatives are not completely free: they exist within a cognitive framework that restricts what may be brought to light. It is this field of discursive and theoretical possibilities that determines and establishes the “discursive formation” (in Michel Foucault’s words) or the set of “paradigms” (in Kuhn’s) that dominate a particular field of science at a particular time.

45Beyond their differences, PPPD and PSVA are intellectually “anchored” in functionalist and behavioralist paradigms, which they in turn provide with a stronger objective foundation by applying them to a new subject, in this case political parties. These two “book-objects” are, therefore, one of the concrete manifestations of a group of scientists united by shared intellectual paradigms, but also, and more tangibly, bound together in formal and informal research networks. This paradigmatic group is also a social group with access to significant material and symbolic resources that allow its members to establish their paradigms, and to establish their own careers at their same time.

The Well-Equipped Networks of Two Nested Groups

46A scientific paradigm, as Kuhn himself declared, never establishes itself purely by virtue of the internal coherence of its models and results. In order to do so, it needs the social power of a group of influential people. [70] In the field of political science, functionalism and behavioralism satisfy the general criteria for being considered as “scientific revolutions”: as has already been demonstrated, [71] they succeeded in establishing long-lasting theoretical tenets and representations of the social world while also establishing the dominance of the group that developed them. On that basis, the second part of this article aims to show that PPPD and PSVA are not just linked to the paradigms of functionalism and behavioralism by their ideas, but also in that all their authors are socially embedded within the dominant scientific group that imposed those paradigms onto the world of academia in America (and elsewhere). These social connections and the resources they provided laid the groundwork for the positive reception the volumes received and the transformation of some of their chapters into “classics” of political science.

47This section reconstructs these social contexts in two phases: first, a demonstration that the groups of authors of PPPD and PSVA were indeed closely connected to each other, which justifies the decision to study them together; second, an outline of the links binding them more broadly to the “extended paradigmatic group” that established itself in the field of political science at the time by imposing the paradigms discussed above.

The Intersecting Networks of PPPD and PSVA: A Transatlantic Academic Configuration

48The list of people who contributed directly to the writing and publishing of both volumes seems relatively short. Out of 80, only 6 took part in both initial conferences: Hans Daalder, Mattei Dogan, Lucian Pye, Stein Rokkan, Robert Scott, and Immanuel Wallerstein. Among them, only Rokkan and Wallerstein contributed to both PPPD and PSVA. But these limited ties must be supplemented by the more numerous ones that appear when the volumes are situated within the wider academic configurations that made them possible.

49We can analyze these configurations by studying two of their concrete manifestations: the editorial series in which PPPD and PSVA were published, and the research committees that provided their backing.

The “Series Production“ of Political Science

50PPPD is the sixth volume in the series entitled Studies in Political Development (<SPD-I>), which consists of nine works in total. PSVA is the seventh and last volume in the International Yearbook of Political Behavior Research (IYPBR), and also the third in the series of volumes published by the ISA’s Committee on Political Sociology (CPS) [72] (Inset 2).

Inset 2. Paradigmatic Series

Studies in Political Development (Princeton, Princeton University Press)
1. Lucian W. Pye (ed.), Communications and Political Development, 1963.€
2. Joseph LaPalombara (ed.), Bureaucracy and Political Development, 1963.€
3. Robert E. Ward & Dankwart A. Rustow (eds), Political Modernization in Japan and Turkey, 1964.€
4. James Coleman (ed.), Education and Political Development, 1965.€
5. Lucian W. Pye & Sidney Verba (eds), Political Culture and Political Development, 1965.€
6. Joseph LaPalombara & Myron Weiner (eds), Political Parties and Political Development, 1966.€
7. Leonard Binder, James Coleman, Joseph LaPalombara, Lucian W. Pye, Myron Weiner, & Sidney Verba (eds), Crises and Sequences in Political Development, 1971.€
8. Charles Tilly (ed.), The Formation of National States in Western Europe, 1975.€
9. Raymond Grew (ed.), Crises of Political Development in Europe and the United States, 1979.
International Yearbook of Political Behavior Research (New York, The Free Press)
1. Morris Janowitz (ed.), Community Political Systems, 1961.€
2. Dwaine Marvick (ed.), Political Decision-Makers, 1961.€
3. Samuel P. Huntington (ed.), Changing Patterns of Military Politics, 1962.€
4. Glendon A. Schubert & Vilhelm Aubert (eds), Judicial Decision-Making, 1963.€
5. David E. Apter (ed.), Ideology and Discontent, 1964.€
6. Joel David Singer (ed.), Quantitative International Politics: Insights and Evidence, 1968.€
7. Seymour M. Lipset & Stein Rokkan (eds), Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives, 1967.
Publications of the Committee on Political Sociology (CPS, 1960-70) [73]
1. Stein Rokkan (ed.), Approaches to the Study of Political Participation, Bergen, The Chr. Michelsen Institute, 1962.€
2. Erik Allardt & Yrjö Littunen (eds), Cleavages, Ideologies, and Party Systems, Helsinki, Westermarck Society, 1964.€
3. Seymour M. Lipset & Stein Rokkan (eds), Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives, New York, The Free Press, 1967.€
4. Otto Stammer (ed.), Party Systems, Party Organizations, and the Politics of the New Masses, Berlin, Free University, 1968.€
5. Richard Rose & Derek Urwin (eds), “Social Structure, Party Systems and Voting Behaviour”, special issue of Comparative Political Studies, 2(1), 1969.€
6. Stein Rokkan, Angus Campbell, Per Torsvik, & Henry Valen (eds), Citizens, Elections, Parties, Oslo/New York, Universitets forlaget/ECPR Press, 1970.€
7. Erik Allardt & Stein Rokkan (eds), Mass Politics, New York, The Free Press, 1970.

51As this list shows, PPPD and PSVA were not published in isolation: they were both part of major editorial initiatives (more than one, in the case of PSVA[74]) that integrated them into the scientific output of larger groups.

52When we consider all the publications in the list, it becomes clear that the same authors reappear regularly. Half the authors of PPPD (seven out of fourteen) also contributed to at least one of the other nine volumes in the <SPD-I> series (Table 1).

Table 1. Authors of PPPD who contributed to several volumes in the SPD series

PPPDNumber of SPD titles
Pye6 out of 9
LaPalombara4 out of 9
Binder3 out of 9
Rustow3 out of 9
Scott3 out of 9
Rokkan2 out of 9
Weiner2 out of 9

Table 1. Authors of PPPD who contributed to several volumes in the SPD series

53Although this sort of repetition occurs less often in the IYPBR list, [75] when the CPS publications are taken into account it is frequent: more than half the authors of PSVA (seven out of thirteen) also contributed to another of the first seven volumes in the series (Table 2).

Table 2. Authors of PSVA who contributed to more than one of the seven existing CPS publications (1960-70)

PSVANumber of CPS publications
Rokkan6 out of 7
Allardt5 out of 7
Lipset4 out of 7
Linz3 out of 7
Alford2 out of 7
Dogan2 out of 7
Pesonen2 out of 7

Table 2. Authors of PSVA who contributed to more than one of the seven existing CPS publications (1960-70)

54These are, therefore, extremely homogenous series, featuring a regularly revolving cast of the same “recidivist” authors. In that sense, PPPD and PSVS can be seen as the expression of a community of researchers who regularly work together, forming an academic network rendered all the more stable by support from institutionalized “research committees” with access to important material and symbolic resources: as well as the aforementioned CPS, the networks of PPPD and PSVA also intersect in other committees, including the Committee on Comparative Politics (which published the entire <SPD-I> series) and the Committee on Political Behavior (which edited all the IYPBR volumes).

The Small Group that Produced Political Science

55The Committee on Comparative Politics (CCP) and the Committee on Political Behavior (CPB) both had ties to an organization that is an integral part of the history of American political science: the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). [76] Founded in 1923, the SSRC is an independent organization comprising representatives of seven professional associations. [77] Its purpose is to facilitate research in the social sciences and to further “the development of the scientific study of politics” [78] through the use of one main tool: the establishment of specialized committees. [79] These committees are responsible for determining the direction of future research, either by choosing which projects should receive SSRC funding or by conducting research and publication projects themselves. At the instigation of its “historic” presidents, including Charles Merriam and Edward (“E.”) Pendleton Herring, [80] the SSRC and its co-opted committees [81] focused heavily on the functionalist and behavioralist paradigms, and so played a major role in the development and consolidation of both new approaches.

56The Committee on Political Behavior, founded in 1949, explicitly aimed to encourage projects that took a behavioralist approach. [82] Its first president, Valdimer Orlando Key Jr. (usually known as V. O. Key), was succeeded by David Truman in 1954. Two separate trends soon emerged within its work: the CPB itself focused on electoral studies, with a particular emphasis on the building of national and international databases, [83] while in 1954 the Committee on Comparative Politics was established as an “offshoot” of the CPB in order to address the question of “political development” directly. [84] It was headed first by Gabriel Almond and then by Lucian Pye in 1963. [85] These SSRC committees were right at the heart of political science research during the 1950s and 1960s, as shown by the account Pye gave of their careers in 1974 [86]: in just eighteen years, the CCP published more than 300 volumes and organized 28 conferences and five summer schools. [87] It became an indispensable “seat of learning” for anyone conducting comparative research in the functionalist or behavioralist modes, as Daalder testifies:


The Committee on Comparative Politics became so influential that, within the academic community, it became known by the simple abbreviation “the Committee“. [88]

58The personal and material connections between the SSRC and CPS committees are also very clear on several other levels. [89]

59Several members of the CPS played a direct role in the creation of PPPD, including Rokkan, who also contributed to PSVA, and Sartori. [90] Conversely, various influential members of the CCP were involved in PSVA, including CCP president Lucian Pye, who presented a paper at the initial conference out of which PSVA grew. Among the fifteen members of the Editorial Advisory Board of the IYPBR, which published PSVA, we find five members of the CPS (Mark Abrams, Morris Janowitz, Lipset, Rokkan, and Otto Stammer), the CCP president Gabriel Almond, and two researchers with connections to the CPB (Heinz Eulau and Peter Rossi, who received grants directly from the CPB).

60These intersections between the CPS and the SSRC committees become even more obvious when we take into account other academic projects that benefited from SSRC resources. The main contributors of PPPD and PSVA were involved in at least two such projects: the “Political Opposition in Western Democracy” program, directed by Robert Dahl of the CPB, which produced a body of work including contributions by Kirchheimer, Daalder, and Rokkan [91]; and the “Smaller European Democracies” project, headed jointly by Dahl, and Daalder and Rokkan of the CPS. [92]

61Finally, it is worth mentioning that 5 of the 24 individual research grants awarded by the CCP between 1956 and 1958 were awarded to CPS members, several of whom contributed to PSVA (Lipset, Dogan, Shmuel Eisenstadt, Linz, and Sartori), while seven were given to CCP members (of whom LaPalombara, Weiner, Leonard Binder, and Scott all contributed to PPPD).

62The SSRC and CPS committees are also “connected” through other “transnational” networks: their institutional ties pass through the UNESCO International Social Sciences Council (ISSC), which was founded in 1951 and explicitly modeled on the American SSRC. [93] The ISSC was the main driver behind the creation of professional scientific associations like the ISA and IPSA (and so of their committees like the CPS). Rokkan himself was very involved in the ISSC (he was its president from 1973 to 1977). Most importantly, the American SSRC was directly represented in the ISSC by Bryce Wood, who was also the permanent representative of the CPB and CCP in the SSRC, and by Pendleton Herring, who was both president of the SSRC and vice-president of the ISSC from 1961 to 1968. [94]

63The fact that the field of political science around the world was structured following the American model [95] also created a web of interconnections between the national academic establishments of America and various European countries. Those ties extended far beyond the groups studied here, forming the basis of a sort of “transatlantic academia”, with predominantly American resources, in which the contributors of PPPD and PSVA occupied a central position.

Gifts and Counter-Gifts: The Resources of a “Paradigmatic Group“

64These academic connections, which helped to consolidate an “extended paradigmatic group”, were made possible by considerable material resources that enabled the series production of ideas and studies (including PPPD and PSVA) and ensured that the work produced was widely disseminated and publicized. These resources came for the most part from American foundations, and from three in particular: the Rockefeller “system” and its affiliates, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Ford Foundation.

The Financial “Foundations” of Paradigmatic Dominance

65The role of the big American foundations in the development of the social sciences has already been the subject of much research. [96] I do not intend to revisit the topic by looking again at how they operate in general, but rather to use some specific examples to illustrate their importance in the production of PPPD and PSVA.

66The foundations of the Rockefeller “system” played an essential role, primarily in the creation of the SSRC itself, for the purpose of which they donated an endowment [97] of 750,000 dollars. [98] More specifically, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded direct grants to several of the researchers involved in PPPD and PSVA, notably to Rokkan, who was a Rockefeller Fellow twice (in 1948-50 and 1955), but also to others including Daalder, who was a Fellow in 1960-61. The Rockefeller Foundation also provided support to American researchers “doing fieldwork” in Europe, particularly LaPalombara, who received financial assistance for his research in Italy on several occasions. Finally, the conference in 1964 that produced PPPD was largely financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, which among other things paid the transport costs for the 40 participants. [99]

67As for the Carnegie Corporation, it invested massively in the creation of both the CPB and the CCP [100] under the influence of its former officer Pendleton Herring, who became president of the SSRC in 1948. In its early years, between 1949 and 1956, the CPB received six separate donations from the Carnegie Corporation amounting to a total of 278,000 dollars. [101] In 1954, the Corporation provided the initial capital of 10,000 dollars [102] to finance the establishment of the CCP, as well as awarding direct individual grants to several of the authors of PPPD and PSVA, including Seymour Lipset, who received funding to cover the cost of a sabbatical year during which he completed PSVA.

68But large-scale investment came above all from the Ford Foundation. Its overall donations to the SSRC increased fourfold between 1948 and 1968. [103] The CPB and CCP did particularly well out of the Ford Foundation, which gave them 740,000 dollars [104] and 658,875 dollars [105] respectively, thereby financing the production of the series in which PPPD and PSVA were published.

69In total, the CPB received 1,018 million dollars from the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford Foundation, while the CCP received 774,000 dollars from all three foundations. [106] This influx of resources created a “network linking universities, the government, the social sciences, philanthropy, and American business in order to implement their varied programs of social reform”. [107] It is within this richly endowed network that the authors of PPPD and PSVA, who also benefited from other infrastructures financed by the foundations, produced their work.

“Available Human Brain Time“: The CASBS and Its Chosen Fellows

70Alongside the SSRC, the foundations also financed other institutions like the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford, or the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of Michigan, both hotbeds of functionalism and behavioralism where the authors of PPPD and PSVA were perfectly at home.

71Established with the help of the Ford Foundation in 1954, the CASBS enabled Fellows, who were selected on a project-by-project basis, to spend a year “in residence” working on personal projects. Focused on the behavioral sciences, it encouraged socialization and exchange between researchers from different disciplines and different countries. Thanks to this diversity, the CASBS became a sort of center of continuing education for researchers wishing to improve their knowledge of, for example, statistical methods, which were then going through a period of major transformation. Emerging computer technologies were rapidly increasing the data and statistical tools available for use in the behavioral research that was fashionable at the time. For example, Daalder recalls first being introduced to computers by another Fellow at the CASBS. [108] Likewise, Dahl describes how it was at the CASBS that he was able to enhance his “understanding of several aspects of mathematics [.. . ] thanks in part to guidance from a number of other Fellows in residence that year”. [109] In short, the CASBS was a sort of functionalist and behavioralist “academic club”, with excellent resources that offered its temporary residents the opportunity to devote “available human brain time” to individual projects, which were by definition chosen because they were thought likely to make some contribution to consolidating the paradigms of the group.

72In that sense, it is significant that the authors of PPPD and PSVA are extremely well represented among the CASBS Fellows: 10 of the 25 contributors spent time in residence there (some twice), as did 7 other members of the CCP or CPS (Table 3).

Table 3. Authors of PPPD/PSVA and Members of the CCP or CPS Who Spent Time at the CASBS

Year spent at the CASBSPPPD/PSVA authors or CCP/CPS members
1955-56Lipset 1 (PSVA + CPS), Eisenstadt (CPS), Dahl 1 (CCP), Coleman 1 (CCP)
1956-57Almond 1 (CCP)
1958-59Grodzins (PPPD), Janowitz (CPS)
1959-60Rokkan 1 (PSVA/PPPD + CPS)
1961-62LaPalombara (PPPD + CCP)
1963-64Pye (PPPD), Coleman 2 (CCP), Verba (CCP), Linz (PSVA)
1966-67Rokkan 2 (PSVA/PPPD + CPS), Daalder (PPPD + CPS), Dahl (CCP)
1967-68Binder (PPPD + CCP)
1968-69Almond 2 (CCP)
1969-70Huntington (CCP)
1970-71Wallerstein (PSVA/PPPD)
1971-72Sartori (PPPD + CPS)
1973-74Lipset 2 (PSVA + CPS)

Table 3. Authors of PPPD/PSVA and Members of the CCP or CPS Who Spent Time at the CASBS

73Apart from Weiner, all the co-editors of PPPD and PSVA (LaPalombara, Lipset, and Rokkan), all the directors of the associated committees (Almond, Pye, Lipset, and Rokkan), and several of the authors of the most-cited contributions (Daalder, Linz, Sartori, and Wallerstein) spent time in residence at the CASBS. If we include the residencies of the “leading lights” of structural functionalism and behavioralism (Harold Lasswell and Paul Lazarsfeld in 1954-55, David Easton and Talcott Parsons in 1957-58, etc.), it becomes clear how important a role the CASBS played in the consolidation of this paradigmatic group.

74Of course, the CASBS was not the only place where the group met and took shape. Also important was the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of Michigan, a training center for survey methodology that was so important it could be described as the “Mecca of empirical research” and of behavioralist “indoctrination”, in Rokkan’s own words. [110] We should also mention Lazarsfeld’s Bureau of Applied Social Research (BASR), which was created at Columbia University in 1939. [111] Extending our analysis to include these institutions is beyond the scope of this article, but it would confirm the role that American research infrastructures (and their resources) played in the formation of a transnational community of thought and work represented by—among others—volumes like PPPD and PSVA.

The Normal Science of Politics and Parties

75The “internalist” analysis of knowledge is necessary but not sufficient to explain why certain definitions of political parties have come to be seen as “classics”. To do so, these discourses must be resituated within the social and historical context in which they were produced so that we can understand the resources and funds that the relevant authors actually had at their disposal. PPPD and PSVA were planned, shaped, produced, and published within the framework of a transatlantic academic configuration that extended far beyond the authors of those volumes, and which was both a community of “paradigmatic” thought (combining the paradigms of functionalism and behavioralism) and a part of the same institutionalized academic networks. These networks had access to plentiful resources thanks to support from the big American foundations and the SSRC, but also from transnational institutions like UNESCO’s ISSC.

76Among the authors of PPPD and PSVA, some accumulated a particularly impressive set of resources, including Rokkan, Lipset, Sartori, Daalder, Linz, and LaPalombara: these are also the authors of the chapters that went on to become “classics”. If we want to understand why some chapters were better received and had more impact that others, then, we need to look at both the space of discourses, in that some of the authors applied the group’s paradigms more systematically than others, and the space of social relations, in that some of the authors were better endowed than others with the academic capital gained from association with the dominant paradigmatic group. But at the same time as applying these paradigms “to the letter”, the authors of PPPD and PSVA also helped to consolidate them by using them to study one of the most canonical subjects of political science: political parties. In the “war of attrition” between researchers in national or international academia, the two volumes’ “conquest” of the subject of parties, which made it possible to complete the systemic and functionalist picture of the political world, represented a significant academic trophy. As Nils Gilman says,


[F]or realizing the behavioralist ambitions of Almond and Pye [...] [p]olitical parties were of particular relevance [...] because of their “function“ of transmitting “impulses which originate in the society“ to the instrumentalities of the state. [112]

78By seeking to embed the subject of parties within the paradigms they supported, the authors represented in these two volumes helped to consolidate the functionalist and behavioralist “extended paradigmatic group”. This consolidation was achieved in two different ways. In the discursive sphere, PPPD and PSVA represent a successful attempt to discursively and theoretically “annex” the topic of parties by appropriating it in opposition to previous traditions, specifically the elitist theories represented by Gaetano Mosca or Robert Michels, or the organizational and institutional theories put forward by Maurice Duverger. In the social sphere, this affirmation of the relevance of functionalist and behavioralist paradigms to party studies allowed the “core group” of PPPD and PSVA, and through them the “extended paradigmatic group”, to set itself against other groups in the academic world. Analysis of these competing groups is beyond the scope of this article, but we can point to the significant example of the rivalry between Pendleton Herring and Carl Friedrich, which seems to have been both a direct academic rivalry (both men were professors in Harvard’s “Department of Government” at the same time) and a disagreement about the methods that should be used in comparative politics (Herring advocated a quantitative and “behavioralist” comparative approach, while Friedrich preferred the institutionalism of “comparative government”). This rivalry pitted Herring and the other members of the SSRC committees, who called for renovation or even “revolution” in the social sciences through the application of functionalist and behavioralist paradigms to the study of politics, against Friedrich and other supporters of the institutionalist and descriptive methods of the legally-inflected tradition of political science. [113] As William Chambers explains elsewhere, the definition and analysis of parties in PPPD and PSVA differed from the elitist and institutional ones that had been dominant until then, in that modern political parties are analyzed as “broadly based social structures that perform crucial political functions” and that are “something more than mere aggregations of men who share certain points of view”. [114]PPPD and PSVA are, therefore, just two specific examples of the vast academic undertaking that was the establishment of the functionalist and behavioralist paradigms and of the group that supported them, focused in this case on one of the most “classic” subjects of political science: political parties.

79Why should we still be interested in this group and its paradigms, 50 years on? Functionalism and behavioralism have been heavily criticized, and they no longer occupy the dominant position they did in the 1960s, when they could boast of being the “normal political science”. Nevertheless, I believe these words of Michel Dobry about the insights produced by the paradigmatic group show why it is still worth studying:


Such ideas would now be of purely archaeological interest if it were not for the fact that they deeply and permanently marked the intellectual habits of political scientists, sociologists, or historians. [115]

81In fact, the central ideas of these approaches remain firmly anchored: they still inform our practice of the discipline, despite the long-standing criticisms directed at them. [116] Studying the intellectual and material production of “classics” of political science, like “LaPalombara & Weiner” and “Lipset & Rokkan”, allows us to gain some perspective on these “canonized” topics and authors, but also on the naturalized frameworks of thought that continue to inform what we do and how we acquire knowledge. Historical sociology and the archaeology of this knowledge can help us, as long as they are carried out alongside one another.


  • [1]
    Michel Offerlé, Les partis politiques, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1987, 18.
  • [2]
    Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner (eds), Political Parties and Political Development, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1966.
  • [3]
    Seymour Lipset and Stein Rokkan (eds), Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives, New York, The Free Press, 1967.
  • [4]
    LaPalombara and Weiner, PPPD, 4.
  • [5]
    Lipset and Rokkan, PSVA, 35-50.
  • [6]
    Giovanni Sartori, “European Political Parties: The Case of Polarized Pluralism” in PPPD, pp. 137-76.
  • [7]
    Otto Kirchheimer, “The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems” in PPPD, pp. 177-200.
  • [8]
    Offerlé, Les partis politiques, 18.
  • [9]
    Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, enlarged second edition, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1970.
  • [10]
    Ibid., 10-23.
  • [11]
    Ibid., 4-6. Kuhn notes explicitly that scientific revolutions above all alter the “scientific imagination” and transform representations of the world.
  • [12]
    Ibid., 8.
  • [13]
    Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. Alan M. Sheridan Smith, London, Routledge, 2002.
  • [14]
    Jean-Louis Fabiani, “La sociologie historique face à l’archéologie du savoir”, Le Portique, 13-14, 2004, 93-107.
  • [15]
    Georges Perec, Espèces d’espaces, Paris, Galilée, 1974.
  • [16]
    The following developments are taken from the archives of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) stored in the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), where I was able to spend two months working thanks to a grant-in-aid from the RAC and a fellowship from the CIRHUS laboratory (CNRS/NYU). I would like to thank both these institutions, their directors, and the archivists at the RAC, in particular Tom Rosenbaum, for their help.
  • [17]
    RAC, SSRC, Acc. 2, S. 1, SbS. 74 “Committee on Comparative Politics”, B. 733, F. 8830-8835.
  • [18]
    For details of how this conference was organized, see: Stein Rokkan, “International Co-operation in Political Sociology: Current Efforts and Future Possibilities” in Erik Allardt and Yrjö Littunen (eds), Cleavages, Ideologies and Party Systems, Helsinki, Westermarck Society, 1964, pp. 5-18.
  • [19]
    There are 26 chapters, but taking into account co-authored chapters and authors who contributed to two chapters (see below), a total of 25 different authors contributed to PPPD and PSVA.
  • [20]
    As shown by later reports on or commemorations of the volumes: Lauri Karvonen and Stein Kuhnle (eds), Party Systems and Voter Alignments Revisited, London, Routledge, 2001; Russell Dalton and Ian McAllister (eds), “Political Parties and Political Development: A New Perspective”, Party Politics, 13(2), 2007, 139-40.
  • [21]
    Rupert Emerson, “Parties and National Integration in Africa” in PPPD, p. 269.
  • [22]
    Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, trans. and ed. Hans H. Gerth and Charles Wright Mills, second edition, Oxford, Routledge, 1991, 102.
  • [23]
    LaPalombara and Weiner, “The Origin and Development of Political Parties” in PPPD, p. 4.
  • [24]
    Weiner and LaPalombara, “The Impact of Parties on Political Development” in PPPD, pp. 433-4.
  • [25]
    Lucian W. Pye, “Party Systems and National Development in Asia” in PPPD, p. 373.
  • [26]
    Morton Grodzins, “Political Parties and the Crisis of Succession in the United States: The Case of 1800” in PPPD, pp. 326-7.
  • [27]
    Sartori, “European Political Parties”, pp. 137-76.
  • [28]
    On the concepts of “development” and “modernization” and their role in the self-assertion of certain academic groups in the Cold War USA, see: Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
  • [29]
    Weiner and LaPalombara, “The Impact of Parties on Political Development”, p. 400.
  • [30]
    To borrow from the title of the manifesto of “developmentalism”, to which Myron Weiner and Lucian W. Pye contributed: Gabriel Almond and James Coleman (eds), The Politics of the Developing Areas, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1960.
  • [31]
    Hans Daalder, “Parties, Elites, and Political Developments in Western Europe” in PPPD, p. 43.
  • [32]
    Sartori, “European Political Parties”, p. 176.
  • [33]
    Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An Introduction” in PSVA, pp. 13-30 and 35-41.
  • [34]
    Robert R. Alford, “Class Voting in the Anglo-American Political Systems” in PSVA, pp. 67-93; repeated in Alan D. Robinson, “Class Voting in New Zealand: a Comment on Alford’s Comparison of Class Voting in the Anglo-American Political Systems” in PSVA, pp. 95-114.
  • [35]
    See also Mattei Dogan, “Political Cleavage and Social Stratification in France and Italy” in PSVA, pp. 182-4; Morton Grodzins, “Political Parties and the Crisis of Succession in the United States”, pp. 303-4.
  • [36]
    William N. Chambers, “Parties and Nation Building in America” in PPPD, pp. 322-5; Robert T. McKenzie and Allan Silver, “The Delicate Experiment: Industrialism, Conservatism and Working-Class Tories in England” in PSVA, pp. 115-25.
  • [37]
    LaPalombara and Weiner, “The Origin and Development of Political Parties”, pp. 3-43 and Weiner and LaPalombara, “The Impact of Parties on Political Development”, pp. 399-435.
  • [38]
    The following section uses terminology borrowed from Michel Foucault.
  • [39]
    Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, 203-13.
  • [40]
    For more in-depth discussion, see: Marion Levy and Francesca Cancian, “Functional Analysis” in David Sills (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, New York, Macmillan/The Free Press, 1968, vol. 6, 21-43; Jacques Lagroye, Sociologie politique, Paris, Dalloz/Presses de Sciences Po, 1993, 129-63; Jean-Claude Lugan, La systémique sociale, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1993.
  • [41]
    In the sense described in the introduction, which is based on Kuhn’s work but does not imply agreement with his theoretical approaches.
  • [42]
    Bronislaw Malinowski, A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1944; Alfred R. Radcliffe-Brown, Structure and Function in Primitive Society, Glencoe, The Free Press, 1952.
  • [43]
    Talcott Parsons, The Social System, Glencoe, The Free Press, 1951; Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, Glencoe, The Free Press, 1957.
  • [44]
    David Easton, The Political System, New York, Knopf, 1953; Karl W. Deutsch, The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control, Glencoe, The Free Press, 1963; David Easton, A Systems Analysis of Political Life, New York, Wiley, 1965.
  • [45]
    John B. Watson, Behaviorism, New York, W. W. Norton, 1925.
  • [46]
    Robert A. Dahl, “The Behavioral Approach in Political Science: Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Protest”, American Political Science Review, 55(4), 1961, 763-72; James Farr, John S. Dryzek, and Stephen T. Leonard (eds), Political Science in History: Research Programs and Political Traditions, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • [47]
    This is not the place to revisit the problems posed by this theoretical circularity. For a summary of those problems, see Lagroye, Sociologie politique, 129-63. For a more detailed critique of the “teleological bias” in this analysis of parties, see Offerlé, Les partis politiques, 10-11.
  • [48]
    LaPalombara and Weiner, “The Origin and Development of Political Parties”, p. 3.
  • [49]
    Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments”, pp. 3-6 [back-translated from the French].
  • [50]
    Which may be economic (Gláucio Ary Dillon Soares, “The Politics of Uneven Development: The Case of Brazil” in PSVA, pp. 469-76) but also “territorial” (Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments”, pp. 41-6) or “cultural” (Joji Watanuki, “Patterns of Politics in Present-Day Japan” in PSVA, pp. 456-60).
  • [51]
    Or “national” integration, particularly in colonial and postcolonial systems (Immanuel Wallerstein, “Class, Tribe, and Party in West African Politics” in PSVA, pp. 497-518).
  • [52]
    The goal here is not to present an exhaustive list, but simply to indicate the variety of functions mentioned, which have in turn given rise to the wide range of “functionalist” typologies of the role of political parties. For two examples from around the same time as PPPD and PSVA, see: Roy C. Macridis (ed.), Political Parties: Contemporary Trends and Ideas, New York, Harper & Row, 1967 (typology with nine different types); Peter H. Merkl, Modern Comparative Politics, New York, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970 (typology with six different types).
  • [53]
    Just two examples among many: Chambers, “Parties and Nation Building in America”, p. 320; Kirchheimer, “The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems”, p. 177.
  • [54]
    Which are not necessarily the responsibility of specific parties (McKenzie and Silver, “The Delicate Experiment”, p. 117), and do not necessarily correspond to institutionalized “groups” (Erik Allardt and Pertti Pesonen, “Cleavages in Finnish politics” in PSVA, pp. 325-6).
  • [55]
    Among others: Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments”, pp. 3-6; Alford, “Class Voting in the Anglo-American Political Systems”, pp. 69-70; Juan J. Linz, “Cleavage and Consensus in West German Politics: The Early Fifties” in PSVA, pp. 283-6; Rupert Emerson, “Parties and National Integration in Africa”, pp. 295-6; Pye, “Party Systems and National Development in Asia”, pp. 373-4.
  • [56]
    Robinson, “Class Voting in New Zealand”, pp. 107-8.
  • [57]
    Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments”, pp. 6-9.
  • [58]
    Some of the most explicit include: Robinson in PSVA and Emerson, Robert E. Scott, Leonard Binder, or Wallerstein in PPPD.
  • [59]
    Chambers, “Parties and Nation Building in America”, p. 82.
  • [60]
    LaPalombara and Weiner, “The Origin and Development of Political Parties”, p. 3; Emerson, “Parties and National Integration in Africa”, pp. 296-7; Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments”, p. 4.
  • [61]
    Grodzins, “Political Parties and the Crisis of Succession in the United States”, p. 327; Wallerstein, “Class, Tribe, and Party in West African Politics”, pp. 512-3.
  • [62]
    Lipset and Rokkan, “Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments”, pp. 35-41.
  • [63]
    Heinz Eulau, “Preface” in PSVA, pp. ix-x.
  • [64]
    See especially the chapters by Dogan (21 tables and 12 charts), Linz (25 tables on Spain, 21 on West Germany), and Rokkan (28 tables and 4 maps) in PSVA.
  • [65]
    Even though what constitutes a behavioralist approach poses numerous problems, this lowest common denominator is still a useful definition. See Dahl, “The Behavioral Approach in Political Science”.
  • [66]
    See the chapters by LaPalombara, Weiner, Daalder, Sartori, and Kirchheimer in PPPD.
  • [67]
    Daalder, “Parties, Elites, and Political Developments in Western Europe”, p. 71.
  • [68]
    Harold Lasswell and Daniel Lerner (eds), The Policy Sciences, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1951.
  • [69]
    Sartori, “European Political Parties”, p. 166.
  • [70]
    Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 8.
  • [71]
    Even though not everyone sees these approaches as “scientific revolutions” in Kuhn’s sense: Farr et al. (eds), Political Science in History; Richard Merelman, Pluralism at Yale: The Culture of Political Science in America, Madison, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2003; John Gunnell (ed.), Imagining the American Polity, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004; John Dryzek, “Revolutions without Enemies: Key Transformations in Political Science”, American Political Science Review, 100(4), 2006, 487-92.
  • [72]
    The CPS was established in 1960 as a standing committee of the ISA, with Lipset as its president and Rokkan as its executive secretary. For its history, see Rokkan, “International Co-operation in Political Sociology”, pp. 5-18.
  • [73]
    The CPS is still running and has published many more volumes since then: only the first seven are listed here.
  • [74]
    The two series in which PSVS appeared are not equivalent, but they complement each other: the third volume of the acts of the CPS was published with the help of the editorial collection of the IYPBR at the Free Press.
  • [75]
    Only Mattei Dogan features in both PSVA and another of the six IYPBR volumes.
  • [76]
    On the history of the SSRC, see Elbridge Sibley, Social Science Research Council: The First Fifty Years, New York, SSRC, 1974; Donald Fisher, Fundamental Development of the Social Sciences: Rockefeller Philanthropy and the United States Social Science Research Council, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1993; Kenton W. Worcester, Social Science Research Council, 1923-1998, New York, SSRC, 2001.
  • [77]
    American Political Science Association, American Economic Association, American Sociological Society, American Anthropological Association, American Historical Association, American Psychological Association, American Statistical Association.
  • [78]
    Committee on Political Research, “Recommendations”, American Political Science Review, 17(2), 1923, 311-2, here 311.
  • [79]
    Elbridge Sibley counts about 30 committees with around 250 members in total, for an average of 8 to 9 members per committee.
  • [80]
    Worcester, Social Science Research Council, 76-7; Barry D. Karl, Charles E. Merriam and the Study of Politics, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1974.
  • [81]
    The board of the SSRC appointed each committee’s president, who was then free to choose the committee’s members.
  • [82]
    Worcester, Social Science Research Council, 182.
  • [83]
    This led notably to the creation of the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research (ICPR) at the University of Michigan in 1962.
  • [84]
    Gilman, Mandarins of the Future, 113-54.
  • [85]
    On the creation of the CCP see Gabriel Almond, Taylor Cole, and Roy C. Macridis, “A Suggested Research Strategy in Western European Government and Politics”, American Political Science Review, 49(4), 1955, 1042-9.
  • [86]
    The CCP was dissolved in 1972. The CPB had already been replaced in 1964 by the Committee on Governmental and Legal Processes. See Sibley, Social Science Research Council, 182.
  • [87]
    Lucian W. Pye, “Foreword” in Charles Tilly (ed.), The Formation of National States in Western Europe, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1975, pp. ix-x.
  • [88]
    Hans Daalder, “Introduction” in Hans Daalder (ed.), Comparative European Politics: The Story of a Profession, London, Pinter, 1997, p. 4 [back-translated from the French].
  • [89]
    See RAC, SSRC, Acc. 2, S. 1, SbS. 74, “Committee Projects, 1924-1990”.
  • [90]
    We should also add Hans Daalder, who was not officially a member of the CPS but who was very involved in it.
  • [91]
    Robert Dahl (ed.), Political Oppositions in Western Democracies, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1966.
  • [92]
    For an overview of its publications, see Daalder (ed.), Comparative European Politics, 26-39.
  • [93]
    “Comité consultatif d’experts pour la création d’un Conseil international des sciences sociales” (Advisory Committee of Experts on the Creation of an International Social Science Council), 20 December 1951, Unesco/SS/SS1/Conf 4/3, Annex 1.
  • [94]
    On the ISSC see Jennifer Platt, Fifty Years of the International Social Science Council, Paris, ISSC, 2002.
  • [95]
    Thibaud Boncourt, “L’internationalisation de la science politique: une comparaison franco-britannique (1945-2010)” [The Internationalization of Political Science: A Franco-British Comparison (1945-2010)], Ph.D. diss. in political science, 2011, Pessac, University of Bordeaux.
  • [96]
    Giuliana Gemelli (ed.), The Ford Foundation and Europe (1950s-1970s), Brussels, European Interuniversity Press, 1998; Volker Berghahn, American and the Intellectual Cold War in Europe, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001; Ludovic Tournès (ed.), L’argent de l’influence: Les fondations américaines et leurs réseaux europeéens (The Money of Influence: American Foundations and their European Networks), Paris, Autrement, 2010.
  • [97]
    Worcester, Social Science Research Council, 1923-1998, 20.
  • [98]
    In today’s money, around 1,400,000 dollars.
  • [99]
    RAC, SSRC, Acc. 2, S. 1, SbS. 74, “Committee on Comparative Politics”.
  • [100]
    For details of how the CPB and CCP were funded see RAC, SSRC, Acc. 2, S. 4, SbS. 74, B. 736, F. 10667-10682 and RAC, SSRC, Acc. 2, S. 4, SbS. 2, B. 713, F. 8587.
  • [101]
    In today’s money, around 2,400,000 dollars.
  • [102]
    Around 87,000 dollars in today’s money.
  • [103]
    Glenn H. Utter and Charles Lockhart (eds), American Political Scientists: A Dictionary, second edition, Westport, Greenwood, 2002; see under “Herring”.
  • [104]
    Between 5,500,000 and 6,500,000 dollars in today’s money.
  • [105]
    Between 4,600,000 and 5,600,000 dollars in today’s money.
  • [106]
    Respectively, between 8,000,000 and 10,000,000 dollars (CPB) and 5,500,000 and 6,800,000 dollars (CCP) in today’s money.
  • [107]
    Karl, Charles E. Merriam and the Study of Politics, 136-7 [back-translated from the French].
  • [108]
    Daalder (ed.), Comparative European Politics, 235.
  • [109]
    Robert Dahl, “A Brief Intellectual Autobiography” in Daalder (ed.), Comparative European Politics, p. 72.
  • [110]
    Stein Rokkan, Citizens, Elections, Parties: Approaches to the Comparative Study of the Processes of Development, Oslo, Universitetsforlaget, 1970, 6.
  • [111]
    On the BASR and Paul Lazarsfeld, see: Michael Pollak, “Paul F. Lazarsfeld, fondateur d’une multinationale scientifique” (Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Founder of a Scientific Multinational), Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 25, 1979, 45-59; Michael Pollak, “Projet scientifique, carrière professionelle et stratégie politique” (Scientific Project, Professional Career and Political Strategy), Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 55, 1984, 54-63.
  • [112]
    Gilman, Mandarins of the Future, 135.
  • [113]
    Ibid., 117-8
  • [114]
    William N. Chambers, Political Parties in A New Nation, New York, Oxford University Press, 1963, Foreword, iii-iv.
  • [115]
    Michel Dobry, Sociologie des crises politiques (Sociology of Political Crises), Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 1986, 18.
  • [116]
    Bernard Lacroix, “Systémisme ou systé-mystification” (Systemism or Syste-Mystification), Cahiers internationaux de sociologie, 58, 1975, 97-122.

This article examines two “classics” of political science: LaPalombara & Weiner (eds), Political Parties and Political Development, 1966; Lipset & Rokkan (eds), Party Systems and Vote Alignments, 1967. Combining a content analysis and a sociological study of the interactions between their authors, it shows that their various theoretical models and contradictions can be explained by a shared commitment to the paradigms of the “normal science” of their time: systemic functionalism and behavioralism. This community of thought is nourished by a common membership of the same networks, which in turn reinforces these paradigms by applying them to the study of a canonical object: political parties.


  • political parties
  • sociology of science
  • history of political science
  • functionalism
  • systemism
  • behavioralism
Francisco Roa Bastos
Francisco Roa Bastos has a Ph.D. in Political Science with a thesis on the legal recognition and academic definition of the political category of “political parties at the European level”. His work since then has been focused in three distinct areas: a historical sociology of European integration that looks at both partisan actors and the academic actors who produce the forms of knowledge about “Europe”; a study of theories about political parties that draws on the sociology of science and the social history of political science; and a collective research project with Atelier Légitimation on practices for the legitimation of power and theories of political legitimacy. His publications include: “En finir avec le charisme?” (Is charisma over?), in Vanessa Bernadou, Félix Blanc, Raphaëlle Laignoux, and Francisco Roa Bastos (eds), Que Faire du Charisme? (What Should We Do About Charisma?), Rennes, Presses Universitares de Rennes, 2014, pp. 217-35 (ISP, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, Maison Max Weber, 200 Avenue de la République, 92001 Nanterre cedex, <>).
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