The Function of Political
Having considered political culture and its relationship to political mobilization, we now investigate the function of mobilization in the political system. First the experience of the developed West is briefly examined; political—as opposed to religious or military-mobilization is the collective and structured expression of commitment and support within society. Such expression may take the form of political parties or quasi-parties-interest groups, movements, etc., anything that has a well-articulated structure (quasi-groups are thus by definition excluded from the present context). Moreover such parties arose and developed around cleavages—at least initially. Later the cleavages generally became mediated by issues, while the parties became self‐ sustaining collectivities activated by, or creating, issues, generally in connection with elections.
In terms of function, this historical development is set against a dichotomous pattern of an interest-articulating function and an authority-legitimating function. These are viewed as the two essential functions of modern political mobilization as a process. The historical change from cleavage to issue as institutionalized through mass elections corresponds in many societies to a dedifferentiation or confusion of the two functions; often they can no longer be separated either structurally or processually. Only the flourish of symbols is able to maintain an ideological view of elections as instrumental to the fulfilment of these functions. The special relevance of elections, and of research based on electoral preoccupations, is examined further in a note at the end of the chapter.
This confusion is discussed in terms of the political ideas of the present time and the last two hundred years. Where such dedifferentiation has taken place, it is regarded as the consequence of a super