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CHAPTER 8 Pre-Industrial and Post-Industrial Political Cleavages I F class-linked voting is declining, common sense might seem to suggest that voting patterns based on Pre-Industrial variables must be declining even more rapidly. Universalism rather than particularism and achieved rather than ascribed status are widely considered to be hallmarks of modern political systems. Religion, race, and other ethnic ties seem improbable and inappropriate bases for political cleavage in societies supposedly characterized by a legalrational style of authority. Religion, in particular, has been an important basis of political conflict since the Reformation, but religious issues have faded in intensity during the twentieth century . Moreover, church attendance has shown a sharp decline in most Western countries during the past decade. One might expect the influence of religion on political behavior to have dwindled in similar fashion. Indeed, there is some evidence that it has. The proportion of the vote going to religious parties in The Netherlands has fallen spectacularly in recent years. In 1922, 59 percent of the Dutch electorate voted for parties linked with the Protestant or Catholic churches. Religious voting remained remarkably stable for decades ; as recently as 1963, the figure was 52 percent. By the 1972 elections, it had dropped to 36 percent. In Belgium, the vote for the Social Christians has shown a similar recent decline from 47 percent in 1958 to 34 percent in 1974. In France's June, 1946, elections, the church-backed Popular Republican Movement won 28 percent of the vote, making it the largest of France's political parties at the time. By 1956 its vote had declined to 11 percent of the total; in 1967 it was dissolved. On the other hand, the vote for religious parties has been quite stable in Germany and Italy. In both countries, the share of the vote going to the Christian Democrats in 1976 was about the same size it had been 25 years earlier. But underlying this stability, there are indications of a possible future decline: church attend- Pre-Industrial and Post-Industrial — 217 ance is falling in both countries. Schmidtchen finds a markedly lower rate of church attendance among younger Germans, and it is linked with the presence of secular values which seem to persist through the life-cycle; and Barnes finds a sharp decline in favor­ able attitudes toward the clergy among younger Italians, as com­ pared with older Italians. 1 Gabriel Almond has spoken of political cultures based on reli­ gion as Pre-Industrial survivals, "outcroppings of older cultures" which persist due to a "failure on the part of the middle classes in the nineteenth century to carry through a thoroughgoing secu­ larization of the political culture."2 The religious factor seems to have persisted far beyond its time; its disappearance could be expected to lead to a sharp increase in polarization along class lines. Is the current change in values and mores an indication that the secularization of Western political culture is finally being completed? Apparently not—at least not yet. Paradoxical as it may seem, Pre-Industrial cleavages appear to be more persistent than Indus­ trial political cleavages. There are two principal reasons for this: (1) a family tends to transmit certain Pre-Industrial character­ istics to its offspring with higher rates of fidelity than those apply­ ing to Industrial characteristics; (2) the relationship of value change to the two respective types of cleavage. Let us consider each of these reasons in turn. As we have seen, the political party which one's parents sup­ ported seems to be a very powerful predictor of how the individual himself votes. Let us assume, for the moment, that both classlinked and religious and ethnic issues had entirely ceased to oper­ ate as contemporary influences on the vote; and that the individ­ ual's choice between the parties of the Left and those of the Right were shaped exclusively by preferences inherited from one's fam­ ily. Obviously, these are assumptions which we would reject— 1 See Gerhard Schmidtchen, Zwischen Kirche und Gesellschaft (Frei­ burg: Herder Verlag, 1972); and Samuel H. Barnes, "Religion and Class in Italian Electoral Behavior," in Richard Rose (ed.), Electoral Behavior: Λ Comparative Handbook (New York: Free Press, 1974), 171-225. Evi­ dence of an inter-generational decline in religiosity on the American scene is reported in M. Kent Jennings and Richard G. Niemi, "Continuity and Change in Political Orientations," American Political Science Review, 69, 4 (December, 1975), 1316-1335. 2 Gabriel Almond, "Comparative Political Systems," Journal of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400869589
MARC Record
OCLC
933516258
Pages
496
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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