In administrative districts throughout Taiwan, political factions resembling political machines compete for political offices and the attendant rewards of power, profit, and prestige. The forces that unite a faction and divide it from its opponent(s), however, vary from place to place. In many areas of mixed ethno-linguistic settlement—such as Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties—a Hokkien-based faction competes with a Hakka faction. In Kaohsiung Municipality, the urban destination of considerable rural outmigration, native-place associations form the core of the political factions. These ethnolinguistic and native-place lines of factional alignment and division offer no surprises. On what bases, however, do political factions align and divide in relatively homogeneous districts? This article, the result of eighteen months' field research in one such rural Taiwanese township, attempts to answer this question.

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