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Jacob Reidhead

Jacob Reidhead picture

Jacob Reidhead



Jacob is pursuing a PhD in sociology at Stanford University. He researches the structure and culture of politics in Korea and Northeast Asia. Jacob promotes complexity, emergence, and process philosophy in social theory and social science research, and advocates dynamic networks as an integrated theoretical and methodological paradigm for advancing that agenda.


Jacob earned an MS in statistics from the Ohio State University. He administers the North Korea Study Group on Facebook. He co-founded the Stanford Network Forum. Jacob reads science-fiction and fantasy novels, plays board games zealously, and is discovering the joy of body-building.

Most theories of party system dynamics attribute party stability or instability to institutional and social factors in parties’ resource environments. This dissertation does not discount the effects of environmental factors, but argues that in cartel-style parties, such as those found in South Korea and Taiwan, intra-party patronage networks are the more proximate structures determining party stability.


The dissertation is divided into two parts. Part one follows an inductive arc whose end product is a historical comparative theory of party dynamics in South Korea and Taiwan. It conceptualizes party stability and empirically demonstrates that the structure of patronage relations across electoral levels predicts stability in the political parties of these two countries more accurately than do their institutional and social environments.


Part two deductively reframes the particular explanation in Part one as a general theory of cartel stability for cartel-like organizations comprised of multi-level networks. This part will introduce an agent-based model that simulates the splitting and combining of such organizations subject to their internal organization and external resource environments. A series of experiments will explore the parameter space corresponding to intra-organizational and environmental factors and will validate the model against the historical evidence of cartel-parties and other cartel-like organizations.