Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Tracy Osborn

Abstract

The dissertation explores the causes of party relabeling by focusing on four party systems: South Korea, France, Taiwan and the United States. The existing literature on political parties considers one of their primary functions to be providing a brand name. As a result, party name change has been viewed as an anomaly caused by internal and external shocks that disturb the status quo equilibrium or a phenomenon symptomatic of unstable, weakly institutionalized party systems. However, party name changes are not as rare as assumed in the existing literature. Therefore, my dissertation addresses the following questions: When and why do parties change names? What are the characteristics of a party system that hamper the development of brand-name party labels? I theorize that the combination of the following three factors increases the likelihood of party relabeling: (1) prominence of personalistic party cues, (2) strong levels of political attention in the electorate, and (3) high degree of governmental centralization. These three factors encourage vote-, office-seeking motivations in the party so greatly that the party is willing to do whatever it takes to win including such a radical strategy as relabeling. In order to test the proposed theory, I closely examine South Korea and France, where parties commonly replace their labels, in comparison to Taiwan and the United States whose parties do not change labels, respectively. These four cases are chosen because they allows cross-case and within-case analysis that is crucial for a comparative case study to gain internal and external validity. I utilize various types of data – both qualitative and quantitative in investigating these cases. My dissertation will contribute to a broad range of literatures in party politics as well as in East Asian politics. By providing a new theoretical model on this understudied phenomenon, I contribute to a better understanding of the role of party labels and initiate more active discussion over party strategy and party branding. Furthermore, by examining Korean and Taiwanese parties in depth, my dissertation provides a systematic analysis on the studies of East Asian politics.

Public Abstract

Despite the conventional wisdom that party labels are brand names, there are some parties that change their labels frequently. What are the characteristics of a party system that hampers the development of brand-name party labels? When and why do parties change names? I theorize that the combination of the following three factors increases the likelihood of party relabeling: (1) prominence of personalistic party cues, (2) strong levels of political attention in the electorate, and (3) high degree of governmental centralization. These three factors encourage vote-, office-seeking motivations in the party so greatly that the party is willing to do whatever it takes to win elections including such a radical strategy as relabeling. In order to test the proposed theory, I closely examine South Korea and France, where parties commonly replace their labels, in comparison to Taiwan and the United States whose parties do not change labels, respectively. These four cases are chosen because they allows cross-case and within-case analysis that is crucial for a comparative case study to gain internal and external validity. I utilize various types of data – both qualitative and quantitative in investigating these cases.

Keywords

publicabstract, Party Rebranding, Party Relabeling, Party Strategy, Political Parties

Pages

xv, 312 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 287-312).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Mi-son Kim

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