East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

March 7, Wan-Zi Lu, “Structure or Fracture Political Loyalty: Explaining Continuity and Change of Single-Party Support”


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society presents 

 Structure or Fracture Political Loyalty: Explaining Continuity and Change of Single-Party Support”


Wan-Zi Lu

PhD student, Department of Sociology

University of Chicago

4:30-6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

*Light refreshments will be served*


Enduring single-party support has been asserted to weaken as traditional societies transition to modern democracy. However, this assertion fails to recognize the influence from the legacies of former regimes and intergroup relations on each community as a whole. Identifying the importance of relational factors in shaping political loyalty, recent studies argue that party identification is mobilized by community leaders. This study shows that the types of community leadership establish different experiences during democratization, processes during which single-party support appears more likely to fracture in some communities but not in others. To account for durable electoral anomaly of Taiwan’s indigenous communities, where single-party support prevails in spite of common party competition across non-aboriginal constituencies, the study assesses the relationship between the types of authority structures and the durability of single-party support. These aboriginal communities are organized by one of two possible authority structures – chief and big man, contrasted by the nature of power inheritance. Accordingly, the two structures differ in the stability of communal leadership, political opportunities for contenders, resistance to competing institutions, and solidarity in the face of exogenous shocks.

To compare the various degree of party competition among the aboriginal societies, the author primarily conducts ethnographic work and interviews in indigenous tribes. Among indigenous communities where inherited hierarchy decides social prestige (i.e. chief villages), chiefs and headmen have retained their impact on contemporary politics. However, indigenous communities without centralized and inherited leadership (i.e. big man villages) have prevalent cleavages; as competing institutions and exogenous shocks magnify these cleavages and offer channels for rivalry parties to mobilize votes, villagers shift away from the single-party identification. Regression analyses additionally support these findings and suggests generalizable patterns of structural durability.

About the Speaker

Wan-Zi Lu is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include political sociology and economic sociology. During the past years, she has studied the party identification and the economic transition of the indigenous peoples in Taiwan.

*To learn more about the full Winter 2017 schedule, please visit: Winter Schedule


Faculty sponsors:

Xi Song (Sociology),  Dali Yang (Political Science), and Dingxin Zhao (Sociology)

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.



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