Less Is Not More: The Insufficiency of Current Data for Understanding the Relationship between Social Diversity and Party System Development

28 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014

See all articles by Heather Stoll

Heather Stoll

University of California, Santa Barbara

Robert G. Moser

University of Texas

Ethan Scheiner

University of California, Davis

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Scholars commonly argue that in democratic societies, the size or fragmentation of party systems — as well as other important features of party systems, such as their nationalization or aggregation — is a function of social heterogeneity, in interaction with political institutions such as the electoral system. Although societies exhibit different types of heterogeneity, from their religious diversity to how socioeconomically equal they are, and although heterogeneity often varies at different political levels, from the national level to the electoral district, political scientists typically characterize countries’ heterogeneity almost exclusively according to measures of national level ethnic diversity. We draw attention to the importance of both different types of heterogeneity and the level at which social heterogeneity is measured. Using original census data for a number of advanced industrial and developing democracies, we show that characterizing heterogeneity solely according to nationwide ethnic diversity often paints a misleading portrait, particularly where it matters the most: at the level of the electoral district. We conclude briefly with the implications for theories that seek to relate social heterogeneity to key aspects of democratic party systems.

Suggested Citation

Stoll, Heather and Moser, Robert G. and Scheiner, Ethan, Less Is Not More: The Insufficiency of Current Data for Understanding the Relationship between Social Diversity and Party System Development (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2453332

Heather Stoll (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara ( email )

Dept. of Political Science
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9420
United States

Robert G. Moser

University of Texas ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Ethan Scheiner

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Apt 153
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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