Much is known about the so called ‚official story‘ of political parties forming their constitution, procedures and benefitting from state subsidies (Poguntke, Scarrow et al. 2016). Behind this legal side of parties, informal rules and patronage networks are of high interest helping to understand how and due to which relations leaders come into their positions (Keller 2016) and of what kind of resources they are supported - or not. This area of party research is underestimated since parties are reluctant against research from outside and thus often restrict access to their inner organisation. This is where this paper identifies recruiting patterns of party elites by using a historical documentary social network analysis.
Stating that elites recruit themselves and build on their inner structures, it is assumed that being a member of party’s central organs and other party affiliated organisations give individuals benefit considering their ascendency into leading positions. These affiliation and patronage networks build a central informal mechanism to explain parties’ survival and regeneration. The analysis of those inner party networks is achieved by case studies (the German parties CDU and SPD) with exploratory and structured approaches. Thus, classic documentary analysis is combined with SNA to lastly show who became a leader and why.
The materials to investigate enclose official protocols of party organs’ meetings, executive committees’ member lists, individual biographies, statements of account and documentations on the particular party’s history. To trace the genesis of assumed informal patronage networks and informal mechanisms of building leadership, a social network analysis (Wetherell 1998, Mahoney and Rueschemeyer 2003) models promotions and internal committee data for the mentioned cases in a longitudinal design from 1945 to 1972/73. This design allows to estimate the promotions between particular individuals based on their biographies and parties’ documenting of its inner life. The chosen period is historical because archives have then opened their shelves to researchers outside from parties. Thus this paper adds empirically to the body of knowledge of parties’ inner life by providing new evidence on the patronage networks within political parties regarding leadership resources and careers.
Keller, F. B. (2016). "MOVING BEYOND FACTIONS: USING SOCIAL NETWORK ANALYSIS TO UNCOVER PATRONAGE NETWORKS AMONG CHINESE ELITES." Journal of East Asian Studies 16(1): 17-41.
Mahoney, J. and D. Rueschemeyer (2003). Comparative Historical Analysis: Achievements and Agendas. Comparative Historical Analysis. J. Mahoney and D. Rueschemeyer. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 3-38.
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