Revolution and Counterrevolution: Change and Persistence in Social Structures

By Seymour Lipset Martin | Go to book overview
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Political Cleavages in "Developed" and "Emerging" Polities

Although many discussions of the possibilities for democratic politics in the emerging nations of the "third world" are posed in terms of whether or not these nations can successfully absorb political models established in the developed countries, it is not really possible to speak of a "Western" political system. A variety of factors have contributed to the vast array of party systems existing in the developed nations.1 These include the different ways in which mass suffrage parties first emerged, the various conditions under which lower-class parties formed their basic ideologies, whether a polity derives its authority from historic legitimacy or from post-revolutionary populism, the extent to which different nations have resolved the tensions flowing from the key power cleavages common in the history of Western industrial societies, such as the place of religion, universal suffrage, the distribution of national income and resources, and the variations in electoral systems. Clearly many of the existing differences reflect the institutionalization of past bases of opinion cleavage; once formalized in political parties these cleavages have survived the decline or disappearance of the original social conflicts which gave rise to party divi

An effort to relate these systematically to theoretical assumptions about basic structures of social systems derived from the concepts of Talcott Parsons may be found in S. M. Lipset and Stein Rokkan, "Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments," in Lipset and Rokkan (eds.), Party Systems and Voter Alignments ( New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1967), pp. 1-64. I have also discussed the factors related to varying political systems in various contexts in other books and do not want to repeat them here. See S. M. Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics ( Garden City: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 45-96, and The First New Nation ( New York: Basic Books, 1963), pp. 207-317.


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Revolution and Counterrevolution: Change and Persistence in Social Structures


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