European Journal of Political Research

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 165–185 | Cite as

The transformation of cleavage politics The 1997 Stein Rokkan lecture

  • Hanspeter Kriesi


In this lecture I discuss the development of the social divisions in Western Europe and their translation into politics. I successively take up the three aspects embraced by the notion of ‘cleavages’ – their structural base, the political values of the groups involved, and their political articulation. My main argument is that the decline of traditional cleavages does not necessarily signify the end of structuration of politics by social divisions. There is ample empirical evidence for the existence of a new social division between two segments of the new middle class, which has important consequences for politics. This new social division is shown to be closely linked to the new ‘value cleavage’ although it is not able to fully account for the enormous political implications which contrasting value-orientations have today. Finally, I suggest that the political articulation of both the transformed class structure and the new configuration of values is strongly shaped by the political legacy of traditional cleavages.


Empirical Evidence Structural Base Middle Class Class Structure Main Argument 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanspeter Kriesi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of GenevaSwitzerland

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