Party Bureaucrats, Independent Professionals, or Politicians? A Study of Party Employees
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionWest European Politics. 2017, 40 (6), 1331-1351. 10.1080/01402382.2017.1290403
The number of party employees is increasing, but to what extent and in what sense are party employees integrated into their parties? Based on the literature on party change, the article identifies three important dimensions ‒ ties, tasks, and career plans ‒ and constructs a typology of four ideal types of party employees – technical assistants, party bureaucrats, independent professionals, and unelected politicians. Data on Norwegian party employees suggest that they have strong party ties and are entrusted with a wide range of political tasks. However, career plans rarely include elected office. The results indicate that party employees have stronger party ties than envisaged in influential party models. Professionalisation does not render party grassroots irrelevant, but rather turns some grassroots activists into professionals – what can be called ‘unelected politicians’. In conclusion, the article discusses implications for contemporary understandings of political parties.