Peverill Squire

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of Politics

DOI of Published Version



How do legislative bodies change over time? Polsby's (1968) examination of institutionalization in the U.S. House provides an organizational framework to assess how a legislature develops. I argue that the process of legislative institutionalization is driven by the membership's career goals. Because members of the California Assembly have different career ambitions than U.S. Representatives, application of institutionalization to the Assembly produces important contrasts with the House. Examination of data collected on the Assembly from 1951 to 1985, particularly with an interrupted time-series model, reveals that the Assembly has increased internal complexity, and, on many but not all measures, it has established well-defined boundaries. But, while the Assembly meets some minor standards of universalistic criteria and automatic methods, it fails to employ seniority as the main rule for the distribution of positions of power. Seniority does not matter because, I argue, more discretionary and particularistic methods better serve the career needs of the Assembly membership. This analysis suggests important implications for the utility of the concept of institutionalization.

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

The Journal of Politics, 54:4 (1992) pp. 1026-1054.


Copyright © 1992 Southern Political Science Association. Used by permission.