How to register for the seminar:
The seminar will be held electronically. In order to register for the seminar, please sign up to the Learnweb course accompanying the seminar using the enrollment key “treib2021”. All relevant information about the seminar will be published there in due time before the first meeting.
For a long time, politics in European countries used to be structured by stable, historically rooted cleavages: lines of political conflict that divide different societal groups with diverging interests and values and leave their imprint on party systems. The left-right conflict that dominates almost all party systems in Europe has its roots in such deeply-rooted cleavages, mostly the class cleavage and the church-state cleavage. Beginning in the 1970s, however, a process of dealignment could be observed, as traditional cleavages lost more and more of their structuring power over party politics and voting behaviour. Vote switching increased, and parties that used to belong to opposing political camps began to work together in grand coalitions. Some observers interpreted these phenomena as an indication of a general process of modernization, individualization and de-politicization. At the same time, new types of political conflict emerged: value change propelled new post-materialists issues such as citizen participation, environmental protection, and individual rights onto the political agenda; processes of increasing international cooperation gave rise to anti-globalization and Eurosceptic movements and parties; and growing feelings of alienation from mainstream politics fuelled the rise of populist parties and actors.
This seminar seeks to take stock of this process of dealignment and realignment. To what extent do we witness the establishment of new types of political cleavages in Europe? How are these new cleavages related to the traditional lines of conflict in Europe? And how does this all play out in different countries as well as in the multi-level system of the European Union?
The seminar is based on a discussion of key readings that address the concept of cleavage, the traditional cleavages that used to structure politics until the 1960s, and the emergence of different types of new cleavages. In addition to discussing readings, individual aspects of the new cleavages will be addressed by small groups of students in more detail, who will prepare short presentations on their findings.
In order to pass the seminar, students are required to prepare the weekly reading assignments, write essays, give a group presentation, and write a term paper on a topic related to the seminar.
Lipset, Seymour M./Stein Rokkan, 1967/1990: Cleavage Structures, Party Systems and Voter Alignments, in: Peter Mair (ed.), The West European Party System. New York: Free Press, 91-138.
Mair, Peter, 2006: Cleavages, in: William Crotty/Richard S. Katz (eds.), Handbook of Party Politics. London: Sage, pp. 371–375.