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Cleaages: Political

Maor D, Fraser B J 1996 Use of classroom environment 1. The Lipset–Rokkan Model

perceptions in evaluating inquiry-based computer assisted
learning. International Journal of Science Education 18: 401–21 The concept of ‘cleavage’ has been current in the social
Midgley C, Eccles J S, Feldlaufer H 1991 Classroom environ-
sciences for some time, although it was given full
ment and the transition to junior high school. In: Fraser B J,
Walberg H J (eds.) Educational Enironments: Ealuation,
development only in the 1960s by Seymour Martin
Antecedents and Consequences. Pergamon, London, pp. 113– Lipset and Stein Rokkan. Both of them political
39 sociologists by training, Lipset and Rokkan (1967)
Moos R H 1974 The Social Climate Scales: An Oeriew. sought to redefine and specify the ‘social bases of
Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, CA politics.’ Writing when structural-functionalism was
Moos R H, Trickett E J 1987 Classroom Enironment Scale at its height—and, therefore, influenced by the
manual, 2nd edn. Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, Parsonian theory which assigned to the political
CA parties the function of encapsulating social conflicts
Taylor P C, Fraser B J, Fisher D L 1997 Monitoring con- and stabilizing the social system—they set out to
structivist classroom learning environments. International
Journal of Educational Research 27: 293–302
explain the persistence of party systems in the Euro-
Tobin K, Fraser B J 1998 Qualitative and quantitative land- pean democracies. In the 1960s, in fact, those systems
scapes of classroom learning environments. In: Fraser B J, still displayed features similar to those that had been
Tobin K G (eds.) International Handbook of Science Edu- institutionalized at the beginning of the century. Not
cation. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 623–40 surprisingly, their explanation was called the theory of
Walberg H J, Anderson G J 1968 Classroom climate and the ‘freezing’ of the European party systems.
individual learning. Journal of Educational Psychology 59: Their method was primarily historical–sociological
414–19 in so far as it connected existing political divisions in
Yarrow A, Millwater J, Fraser B J 1997 Improving university the European countries with the principal cleavages
and primary school classroom environments through pre- that had opened up in the course of their development,
service teachers’ action research. International Journal of
Practical Experiences in Professional Education 1(1): 68–93
from the birth of the nation-state in the sixteenth
Dryden M,, Fraser B J 1996 Ealuating Urban Systemic Reform century to its full democratic maturation in the
Using Classroom Learning Enironment Instruments. Paper twentieth. The specific political cleavages that gave
presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational rise to the modern party systems accordingly were seen
Research Association, New York to be the result of two great historical processes: the
Fisher D, Henderson D, Fraser B 1997 Laboratory environments one that had bred national revolutions (and, therefore,
and student outcomes in senior high school biology. American the formation of the modern European nation-states),
Biology Teacher 59: 214–19 and the one that had engendered the industrial
Fraser B J, McRobbie C J 1995 Science laboratory classroom revolution (and, therefore, the formation of modern
environments at schools and universities: A cross-national
study. Educational Research and Ealuation 1: 289–317
European capitalist systems).
McRobbie C J, Fraser B J 1993 Associations between student National revolutions had created two structural
outcomes and psychosocial scince environment. Journal of divisions: (a) between the center and the periphery, or
Educational Research 87: 78–85 between the groups and areas that sought to impose a
Wong W L F, Fraser B J 1996 Environment-attitude associ- single public authority on a given territory and the
ations in the chemistry laboratory classroom. Research in groups and areas which asserted their traditional
Science and Technological Education 14: 91–102 autonomy against such centralizing pressures; (b)
between the lay state and the church, or between
B. J. Fraser groups which sought to separate temporal from
religious authority and groups intent on preserving the
intimate connection between them. The industrial
revolution in its turn created two further structural
divisions: (a) between agriculture and industry, or
between groups and areas whose survival depended on
Cleavages: Political traditional activities and groups and areas which
endeavored to remove traditional constraints in order
‘Political cleavages’ are political divisions among to foster the growth of new activities and production
citizens rooted in the structure of a given social system. methods; (b) between capital and labor, or between
However, although cleavages are political divisions, the groups that dominated the new industrial structure
not all political divisions among citizens spring from and the workers, whose only possession was their
structural cleavages. For one to talk of ‘cleavages’ capacity to perform labor.
such divisions must be permanent and noncontingent. In Europe, only the parties that reflected these
They must orient people’s behavior and sense of cleavages were able to survive, that is, reproduce
belonging stably and constantly. Political cleavages themselves electorally and institutionally. The in-
are the partisan expression of an underlying division stitutionalized interaction among these parties gave
among the members of a given society (whether rise to the modern party systems which, in individual
national, subnational, or supranational). European countries, and in forms that differed from

Cleaages: Political

one country to another, still conserved in the mid- were given various interpretations by scholars. The
twentieth century the cleavages that had arisen in 1992 study by Franklin suggested that the decline of
previous ones. cleavage politics was ineluctable, those of Inglehart
(1977), Dalton et al. (1984) and subsequent studies
until seemingly showed that cleavage politics were
2. Subsequent Debate evolving in a new direction so that ‘cultural’ cleavages
were now taking the place of fading social cleavages
The Lipset–Rokkan model heavily influenced the and reorienting electoral and political behavior.
debate conducted during the 1960s on the political For these authors, the new structure of divisions
parties. The discussion started from the premise that might indeed have a ‘social basis,’ but it was manifest
political parties were necessary to make democracy in a clash of values: between industrial values (in favor
safe (i.e., stable), as Schattschneider (1948) had already of the quantitative growth of affluence) on the one
argued. However, the model was not endorsed uni- hand, and postindustrial ones (which gave priority to
versally, at least in its entirety. In a study of a small the quality of life and the protection of the environ-
Scandinavian democracy, Eckstein (1966) pointed out ment) on the other. Associated with each side were
the existence of multiple political divisions, identifying socioeconomic groups and geographical areas, but the
ones due to specific disagreements on particular public clash involved distinct (and opposed) cultural con-
policies, others due to cultural divergences on inter- ceptions and lifestyles. Of course, there was no lack of
pretations of political life, and yet others arising from criticism of this approach—especially by Bartolini and
segmental cleavages caused by objective social dif- Mair (1990)—given that it emptied Lipset and
ferences. Again in 1966, Daalder examined the small Rokkan’s original concept of cleavage of much of its
democracies of continental Europe and pointed out meaning. For this reason, Bartolini and Mair pro-
the existence of political divisions due to factors (for posed the following redefinition of the notion: (a)
instance, the nature of the political regime or the empirically, a cleavage must be definable in terms of
concept of nationality) other than those envisaged by social structure; (b) normatively, a cleavage is a system
the Lipset–Rokkan model. of values which gives a sense of collective identity to a
But it was Sartori (1969) who challenged most social group; (c) behaviorally, a cleavage is manifest in
radically the Lipset–Rokkan model, by reversing its the interaction among political actors. Thus redefined,
causal logic. For Sartori, it was not social divisions the concept of cleavage is broader in its compass and
that encouraged the birth of parties; rather, it was the becomes a means to order social relations.
parties that gave visibility and identity to a particular
structure of social divisions. In short, Sartori argued,
political sociology (and political science) should take 3. The Freezing of Cleaages
the place of sociology of politics if partisan politics in
the European democracies were to be understood Sociologists and economists also joined the debate.
properly. Lipset (1970) himself acknowledged the Goldthorpe (1996), for example, found that trad-
ability of parties to exacerbate politically a cleavage itional social divisions were still conditioning political
that might socially be in decline. Nonetheless, he allegiances and electoral choices at the end of the
reiterated that a social basis was necessary for a party twentieth century. Other studies appeared which,
to exist. Thus, while for Lipset and Rokkan social although they extended the concept of social cleavage,
cleavages were necessary, though not sufficient, for the continued to frame it in structural terms. Lijphart
formation of parties and of party systems, for Sartori (1977), in his study of the small consociative de-
they were neither necessary nor sufficient because mocracies of continental Europe, and then in his
politics can only be conducted independently of other analyses of the established democracies (Lijphart
social spheres. This autonomy of the parties from 1999), showed that ethnic divisions performed the
society had already been shown by Kirchheimer (1966) same function in structuring identity and behavior as
in his celebrated study in which he investigated the did the other social divisions of the Lipset–Rokkan
transition from the ‘party of social integration’ to the model. These divisions, too, sprang from the long
‘catch-all party,’ that is, a party able to represent historical process that had led to the formation of the
diverse classes and social groups electorally. nation-state. Thereafter, they had continued to pre-
From the 1970s onwards, partly due to the de- dominate despite the divisions created by the process
velopment of more sophisticated techniques of social of industrialization. In the nation-states, the divisions
research, the debate moved in a more microempirical between agriculture and industry, and between capital
and less macrohistorical direction. The decade saw and labor were absorbed by more basic ethnic-
numerous studies of electoral behavior, although their linguistic cleavages. According to Lijphart, the diverse
results were equivocal. While early studies like Rose nature of these cleavages lay at the origin of the two
(1974) showed the relative decline of politics based on principal models of democracy (what he called ‘con-
social cleavages (or ‘cleavage politics,’ as it came to be sensual’ and ‘majoritarian’) that developed in the West
called), the magnitude and implications of this decline after the World War II.

Cleaages: Political

The model of consensual democracy based on the stable interaction among the political parties, and that
inclusion in the executive of all the country’s main stability may conceal processes of dealignment and
ethnic groups proved highly effective (in stabilizing realignment sufficient to gainsay the logic of the
democracy). It was accordingly used by authors Lipset–Rokkan model.
(starting from Sartori and his studies of party systems
in the 1970s) to investigate the workings of national
societies connoted by identity divisions, albeit based
on ideology rather than ethnicity or language. The 4. Between Europe and America
reference here is to the postwar European democracies
distinguished by the presence of powerful communist The theory of cleavages has been developed on the
parties. Even these democracies were consensual in basis of the experiences of the Western European
nature, although their operation was sustained, not by countries, with no reference to the other great model
inclusive coalitions in the executive (access to which of democracy: that of the United States. And yet it was
was barred to communist parties, owing to the precisely in the United States that modern political
geopolitical cleavages created by the Cold War), but parties and party systems were invented. Indeed, the
by consensual practices in parliament. However, while myth of American exceptionalism has been fostered
these ideological cleavages proved unstable with the by this European neglect; a neglect motivated by the
passage of time, this was not the case of ethnic ones. It belief that American society, unlike those of European
seemed, indeed, that the model of consensual democ- countries, is based on cross-cutting cleavages which—
racy had ended up by ‘freezing’ ethnic allegiances, as Lipset maintained as early as 1963—are unable to
though managing to cushion their impact. produce stable divisions among citizens. This absence
The reasons why party systems were frozen in the of cleavage politics, the argument ran, gave rise to the
postwar European democracies were expressly in- depolarization of partisan conflict in the United States
vestigated by Mair and Bartolini (1990). These two that underpinned the stability of ‘American democ-
authors examined three different hypotheses with racy.’ In short, the more cleavages multiply and
regard to the freezing process. First, it may involve the interweave, the more numerous the divisions among
freezing of social cleavages, that is, the stabilization of citizens become, and the safer democracy grows.
the social structure from which the parties draw And yet, as Bensel (1987) showed, the situation in
legitimation for their political action. Second, the the United States was not so clear-cut, for that
freezing may be due to the institutionalization of the country, too, displayed, and still does, a stable political
political parties, albeit accompanied by the fading of cleavage; sectional rather than social and cultural,
the social divisions that had prompted their formation although it has latterly acquired these features as well.
(here by ‘institutionalization’ is meant the parties’ This is the political cleavage between states and
ability to stand as the only practicable electoral regional areas expressed in two radically different
choices). Third, the freezing may be due to the conceptions of the balance of powers to be struck
stabilization of the party system as such, or put between the states and the center of the federation.
otherwise, the institutionalization of the system of And it should not be forgotten that this fracture
interactions among the main political actors. Mair and provoked one of the most violent and bloody civil
Bartolini seem to suggest that the third of these wars of the modern age. It is around this cleavage that
hypotheses is the most plausible, given that both the the various party systems that have arisen since the
hypothesis of the freezing of social cleavages and that foundation of American republic have structured
of the freezing of political parties must admit to so themselves.
many exceptions that they are not falsifiable. In short, In the light of the postnational experience of Europe
for both authors a distinction must be drawn between at the end of the twentieth century, the case of the
the freezing of party systems and the freezing of United States appears less exceptional than it did in
individual parties. the past. This is because the process of European
The freezing hypothesis has also been discussed in integration has generated a sectional divide among
terms of voting behavior. Several surveys have geo-economic areas of the continent which cuts across
sought—using different indicators—to collect reliable the traditional (in Europe) party-political axis ranging
data on the stability and instability of voting choices. from right to left. And in this case, too, the new
Many scholars, from Pederson (1983) to Maguire contraposition has taken the form of a different
(1983) and especially Bartolini (2000), have shown interpretation of the balance of powers that should be
that rates of aggregate electoral volatility were rela- established between the European and national in-
tively low until the 1980s: which corroborated Lipset stitutions. Can European integration be regarded as a
and Rokkan’s original contention that continuity further historical cleavage—in addition to those
rather than change was the distinguishing feature of singled out by the Lipset–Rokkan model—destined to
partisan politics in Europe. These studies came in for produce another political structural cleavage? If so,
criticism, of course, mainly on the grounds that the cleavage theory might be updated, this time
electoral stability does not necessarily coincide with bridging the European and American experiences.

Cleaages: Political

See also: Conflict\Consensus; Conflict Sociology; Sartori G 1969 From sociology of politics to political sociology.
Ethnic Conflict, Geography of; Ethnic Conflicts; Party In: Lipset S M (ed.) Politics and the Social Sciences. Oxford
University Press, New York
Systems; Pluralism; Political Geography; Political
Sartori G 1976 Parties and Party Systems. Cambridge University
Sociology; Race Relations in the United States, Press, New York
Politics of Schattschneider E E 1948 The Struggle for Party Goernment.
University of Maryland, College Park, MD

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International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences ISBN: 0-08-043076-7