Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The American Political Science Review


Geisel School of Medicine


Because the codes, rules and ideology of mass. single-party systems reach the village areas more slowly than do the tangible personalizations of party authority, a situation of potential misuse of power exists where rural party organizations operate. Peasants are aware of face-to face confrontations by a familiar figure who has gained a party position; they are unaware of the precepts and regulations that the national party has laid down for the village level functionaries. Consequently, political victimization is most pronounced at the very grass-root level that national leaders are attempting to integrate politically. Moreover, by its nature the rural party is a multi-faceted organization that is acceptable to the peasants because its leaders provide services that in more structured societies are carried out by specific agencies and contracts. Functions such as family arbitration, police investigation and criminal adjudication are mixed with the more classical party activities of representation and the dispensing of patronage.

Taken together, the above two characteristics of a rural party-potential abuse, and the multifaceted nature significantly influence the extent and form of political participation in the areas they serve. This article attempts to analyze these characteristics in Tanzania, and thereafter to assess rural party participation, and more broadly to suggest the theoretical dimensions of political participation in a new nation.

Original Citation

Miller, Norman. “The Rural African Party: Political Participation in Tanzania.” The American Political Science Review 64.2 (1970): 548–571.