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Partisans and PartnersThe Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society$
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Josh Pacewicz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402550

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402727.001.0001

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Politics Embedded in Community Governance: The Community Leadership Party

Politics Embedded in Community Governance: The Community Leadership Party

(p.80) Three Politics Embedded in Community Governance: The Community Leadership Party
Partisans and Partners

Josh Pacewicz

University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows how traditional community leaders’ political engagement resulted in politics embedded in community governance: organizational and ideological overlap between community institutions and grassroots parties. Political historians argue that American political parties’ lack of sub-national infrastructure has historically made political elites dependent on community activists, which political scientists characterize as party bosses during the mid-20th Century. The chapter employs urban histories, archival records, and social network analysis to argue that party machines were only one type of a general type—the community leadership party—characterized by three features: most community elites were involved in parties, most party leaders were community notables, and leaders oriented party priorities towards salient community issues—notably distributional labor-business struggles and away from hot button political issues. The chapter concludes with informant interviews, which show how the embedding of politics within community governance blurred the lines between local and national politics in older people’s minds. Older residents used nonpolitical local distinctions—mode of employment, lifestyle, even neighborhood of residence—to situated themselves within pre-1980s labor-business struggles, thereby establishing a partisan preference by extension, even when they knew and cared little about public policies.

Keywords:   grassroots parties, campaign finance, political polarization, political preference formation, political heuristics

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