Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - TEST

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Sozialwissen­schaften | TEST | Forschung | Forschungsbereiche | Der Wandel demokratischer Institutionen | To revise or not to revise – opportunities and obstacles in party development

To revise or not to revise – opportunities and obstacles in party development

Konstantin Vössing









Summary A purely rationalistic view of politics would predict that parties adapt when important changes in the world outside of the party make existing programs, strategies, or forms of organization obsolete or dysfunctional. Normative democratic theory would suggest that the revision of a substantive agenda is desirable whenever this responds to changes in the demands of the citizenry. However, on countless occasions parties do not adapt, even when a change of external circumstances would suggest such adaptation as a rational or a normatively desirable choice. The goal of this project is to explore the causes of resistance to adaptation and transformation within the party. We intend to delineate the conditions under which parties can be expected to change or to preserve their programmatic commitments, policy demands, strategies, or forms of organization.

Out of a variety of factors that represent potential obstacles to party change, our particular attention is on party members’ psychological and socio-cultural attachment to a given practice or orientation. Our empirical focus at this point is on two specific areas. First, we investigate the transformation of social democratic parties through a “larger n” qualitative-quantitative study, on the basis of a novel taxonomy of variation in labor politics. Second, we are going to conduct field work through semi-structured interviews and a standardized survey among party elites in the context of a comparative case study in the two “most different” cases of Germany and Mexico.




Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin



Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Universitätsstraße 3b
10117 Berlin