Social Cleavages and American Politics
This chapter introduces the concepts and strategies of inquiry we employ in the rest of this study. It considers a range of methodological and statistical issues involved in our study of social cleavages. We also present the theoretical interpretations that we use as a guide to analyzing patterns of change over time.
The concept of a 'cleavage' has been used by scholars to identify enduring conflicts within the electorate. Despite the concept's long intellectual pedigree, there has been little agreement in the social science literature as to precisely what type of division merits the label of a cleavage. Given its centrality in this study, we clarify our use of the concept and the differences between cleavages and other types of social divisions or ideological conflicts.
The cleavage concept can be traced to the intersection of Marxist and Weberian social theory. Marx's class-centered model of history and social change, and Weber's distinction between classes, status groups, and organizations in capitalist societies locate the primary source of political division in social structures. Weber built upon the Marxian legacy by expanding the definition of social cleavage to encompass the idea of the status group (stand) and, more importantly, by calling attention to the role of organizational and institutional factors (such as parties and states) in shaping the emergence and actual impact of cleavages. 1
As noted in the previous chapter, Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan use the cleavage concept in their landmark 1967 theoretical statement to describe the political conflicts that emerged out of the
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Social Cleavages and Political Change:Voter Alignments and U.S. Party Coalitions. Contributors: Jeff Manza - Author, Clem Brooks - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 31.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.