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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Intraparty Organization in the U.S. Congress

  • Author(s): Bloch Rubin, Ruth Frances
  • Advisor(s): Schickler, Eric
  • et al.

The purpose of this dissertation is to supply a simple and synthetic theory to help us to understand the development and value of organized intraparty blocs. I will argue that lawmakers rely on these intraparty organizations to resolve several serious collective action and coordination problems that otherwise make it difficult for rank-and-file party members to successfully challenge their congressional leaders for control of policy outcomes. In the empirical chapters of this dissertation, I will show that intraparty organizations empower dissident lawmakers to resolve their collective action and coordination challenges by providing selective incentives to cooperative members, transforming public good policies into excludable accomplishments, and instituting rules and procedures to promote group decision-making. And, in tracing the development of intraparty organization through several well-known examples of party infighting, I will demonstrate that intraparty organizations have played pivotal -- yet largely unrecognized -- roles in critical legislative battles, including turn-of-the-century economic struggles, mid-century battles over civil rights legislation, and contemporary debates over national health care policy.

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