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  The division of a society into groups with similar political attitudes and partisan identifications. The classic study of west European political systems identified four main cleavages (Lipset and Rokkan, 1967); two related to the growth of the nation-state (subject versus dominant culture; church(es) versus state) and two related to the industrial revolution (primary versus secondary economy; workers versus employers). Other cleavages have been identified elsewhere (e.g. the sectional — see section — cleavage in the USA and the post-industrial in many \'advanced industrial\' societies: Harrop and Miller, 1987). Cleavages are produced by political parties mobilizing electors on different sides of a social, economic or cultural conflict and are reflected in the geography of voting there (see electoral geography). Some argue that with weaker levels of links between parties and specified social groups within contemporary societies (termed partisan and class dealignment) parties are having to develop \'catch-all\' characteristics in their competition for votes and power. (RJJ)

References Harrop, M.L. and Miller, W.L. 1987: Electors and voters: a comparative perspective. London: Macmillan. Lipset, S.M. and Rokkan, S.E. 1967: Cleavage structures, party systems, and voter alignments: an introduction. In S.M. Lipset and S.E. Rokkan, eds, Party systems and voter alignments. New York: The Free Press, 1-64.



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