1997 年 12 巻 p. 16-27,294
Just as the American political parties are in a state of flux, the American party scholarship is in a state of transition. The debate on the condition of the American parties, decline or resurgence, has not yet been settled, and the traditional party theories cannot explain well these conradicting aspects of the American party politics today. Among many attempts to solve the puzzle and fill the gulf between party theories and party realities, the most notable is John H. Aldrich's application of a rational-choice-based new institutionalist approach to the study of the American party politics.
His central argument is that the American parties are highly “endogenous institutions, ” and it is the office-seekers who create parties and it is they who alter the forms of parties to resolve problems that confront them. The old form of parties collapsed in the 1960s, and the new form of parties has emerged. The new form is designed to advance the needs and interests of ambitious politicians. The emergence of this “candidate-centered” parties made irrelevant the traditional Key-Sorauf “tripod” view of paries, and a new study paradigm is necessary for the new institutional design for parties.
Although his approach and theorizing have several problems, his contributions to the American party scholarship include: (1) a formulation of a new theoretical framework to understand the contemporary American party politics, (2) an emphasis of the importance of the party in government as a research focus and the relationship between office-holder's policy preference and his recruitment, and (3) a distinction between two types of the party dynamics in the American party history. To advance the American party scholarship, it is desirable to study the national and state party apparatus from the rational-choice-based new institutionalist approach, and relate them to the new form of parties.