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B. J. Fraser
‘Political cleavages’ are political divisions amongcitizensrootedinthestructureofagivensocialsystem.However, although cleavages are political divisions,not all political divisions among citizens spring fromstructural cleavages. For one to talk of ‘cleavages’such divisions must be permanent and noncontingent.They must orient people’s behavior and sense of belonging stably and constantly. Political cleavagesare the partisan expression of an underlying divisionamong the members of a given society (whethernational, subnational, or supranational).
1. The Lipset–Rokkan Model
Theconceptof‘cleavage’hasbeencurrentinthesocialsciences for some time, although it was given fulldevelopment only in the 1960s by Seymour MartinLipset and Stein Rokkan. Both of them politicalsociologists by training, Lipset and Rokkan (1967)sought to redeﬁne and specify the ‘social bases of politics.’ Writing when structural-functionalism wasat its height—and, therefore, inﬂuenced by theParsonian theory which assigned to the politicalparties the function of encapsulating social conﬂictsand stabilizing the social system—they set out toexplain the persistence of party systems in the Euro-pean democracies. In the 1960s, in fact, those systemsstill displayed features similar to those that had beeninstitutionalized at the beginning of the century. Notsurprisingly,theirexplanationwascalledthetheoryof the ‘freezing’ of the European party systems.Their method was primarily historical–sociologicalin so far as it connected existing political divisions inthe European countries with the principal cleavagesthathadopenedupinthecourseoftheirdevelopment,from the birth of the nation-state in the sixteenthcentury to its full democratic maturation in thetwentieth. The speciﬁc political cleavages that gaverisetothemodernpartysystemsaccordinglywereseento be the result of two great historical processes: theonethathadbrednationalrevolutions(and,therefore,theformationof themodernEuropean nation-states),and the one that had engendered the industrialrevolution (and, therefore, the formation of modernEuropean capitalist systems).National revolutions had created two structuraldivisions: (a) between the center and the periphery, orbetween the groups and areas that sought to impose asingle public authority on a given territory and thegroups and areas which asserted their traditionalautonomy against such centralizing pressures; (b)between the lay state and the church, or betweengroups which sought to separate temporal fromreligiousauthorityandgroupsintentonpreservingtheintimate connection between them. The industrialrevolution in its turn created two further structuraldivisions: (a) between agriculture and industry, orbetweengroupsandareaswhosesurvivaldependedontraditional activities and groups and areas whichendeavored to remove traditional constraints in orderto foster the growth of new activities and productionmethods; (b) between capital and labor, or betweenthegroupsthatdominatedthenewindustrialstructureand the workers, whose only possession was theircapacity to perform labor.In Europe, only the parties that reﬂected thesecleavages were able to survive, that is, reproducethemselves electorally and institutionally. The in-stitutionalized interaction among these parties gaverise to the modern party systems which, in individualEuropean countries, and in forms that diﬀered from1987