Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics

By Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Elections: The Expression of the Democratic Class Struggle 1

IN EVERY modern democracy conflict among different groups is expressed through political parties which basically represent a "democratic translation of the class struggle." Even though many parties renounce the principle of class conflict or loyalty, an analysis of their appeals and their support suggests that they do represent the interests of different classes. On a world scale, the principal generalization which can be made is that parties are primarily based on either the lower classes or the middle and upper classes. This generalization even holds true for the American parties, which have traditionally been considered an exception to the class-cleavage pattern of Europe. The Democrats from the beginning of their history have drawn more support from the lower strata of the society, while the Federalist, Whig, and

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1
This apt phrase was taken from the title of the book by Dewey Anderson and Percy Davidson, Ballots and the Democratic Class Struggle ( Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1943). This book and the earlier one by the sociologist Stuart A. Rice, Quantitative Methods in Politics ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928) deserve to stand as the first American classics of the political- behavior field. Rice did the first panel (repeat interview) study in 1924, made the first statistical studies of the sources of voting behavior by legislators, and correlated changes in party support over periods of time with changes in the business cycle. Anderson and Davidson also analyzed who among voters changed their party in the early 1930s.

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