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Robert Harmel and Alexander C Tan A complete parties’ scholar: Kenneth Janda as teacher/researcher, conceptualizer and operationalizer, data-builder, and theorizer and tester”
Party Politics January 2015 21: 10-16

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First paragraph:

For this article, we have been asked to assess the impact of Kenneth Janda’s career on the study of political parties. This is no easy task, first because the impacts have been felt in so many areas of study, second because the impact of the extant work is still being felt, and third because there is no reason to believe that he won’t find even more ways to impact the field in his future work. Indeed, this issue of Party Politics marks only one of Janda’s retirements, and this time limited to co-editorship of the journal. Since Janda’s retirement from full-time teaching and research at Northwestern in 2002, he has continued to develop new areas of research in which his impact has already been significant. And since that ‘first retirement’, he has also continued to have impacts in a non-public way, influencing countless colleagues and students – both at home and abroad – who have benefited from his thorough, constructive critiques of their work, always accompanied by a list of helpful suggestions. So, considering this to be just an incomplete impact assessment as Janda embarks on the next stage of his career, we will limit ourselves to reviewing and assessing the more public aspects of the work he has already done: as teacher/researcher, as conceptualizer and operationalizer, as data-builder, and as theorizer and tester.

Last Paragraph:

While the arduous task of data building still stands as a roadblock to developing and testing theory on a broad range of important research questions, it is nonetheless clear that some (e.g. those involved in the Katz and Mair project, 1992; those involved in the ongoing Political Party Data Base project directed by Susan Scarrow, Paul Webb, and Thomas Poguntke) have taken up the challenge implicit in Janda’s insight that ‘obtaining the proper data to operationalize and test a complex social theory is often more a matter of creating data than finding them’ (Janda, 1984: 14). Likewise, while single-nation remains the dominant form of studies of party organization, truly comparative (i.e. cross-national) studies have certainly increased since Janda critiqued the field in the 1960s. At the time, he was one of just a handful of American students of parties to challenge their peers to put the American parties in comparative context, and since then more have answered that call. To attribute these changes to any single advocate/exemplar would certainly be foolhardy, but it would be just as foolhardy to suggest that Ken Janda has had anything less than an important role in these significant changes in the agenda and approaches for the study of political parties


Last updated Febuary 2015