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Cleavage Theory Meets Bourdieu: Studying the Emergence of Cleavage Identities


Westheuser, Linus; Zollinger, Delia (2021). Cleavage Theory Meets Bourdieu: Studying the Emergence of Cleavage Identities. In: 28. Wissenschaftliche Kongress der Deutschen Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW), Online, 14 September 2021 - 16 September 2021, s.n..

Abstract

Across Western societies, issues like migration and social liberalization are shown to constitute a ‘second dimension’ perpendicular to redistributive conflict. Influential diagnoses contend that this dimension reflects not only ideological disagreement but a deep-running antagonism on the level of social identities. This is important because it would indicate that the second dimension is consolidating into a full-fledged and likely durable new cleavage rooted in the social life of classes and groups. But the evidence about new cleavage identities is inconclusive and conceptual issues remain unresolved. The article suggests that to move ahead, researchers should draw on synergies between political science and sociology who today are converging on a renewed interest in the social bases of politics. Specifically, the article synthesizes insights from cleavage theory and Bourdieusian sociology to develop a theoretical framework for researching social identities along the second dimension. We clarify what we should (not) be looking for when researching new cleavage identities and theorize three component processes of cleavage formation in which such identities come to bear. These are social closure, through which the sociability of groups is delimited; classification struggles, in which elite and lay actors seek to impose as authoritative and legitimate certain schemes of belonging and exclusion; and the freezing of social identities by sustained antagonistic political mobilization over time. Cleavage research and Bourdieusian sociology each contribute to an understanding of these processes with different theoretical premises and empirical tools. When put in dialogue, this double vision allows for a more well-founded debate about whether and how structural alignment along the second dimension is indeed consolidating on the level of social identities.

Abstract

Across Western societies, issues like migration and social liberalization are shown to constitute a ‘second dimension’ perpendicular to redistributive conflict. Influential diagnoses contend that this dimension reflects not only ideological disagreement but a deep-running antagonism on the level of social identities. This is important because it would indicate that the second dimension is consolidating into a full-fledged and likely durable new cleavage rooted in the social life of classes and groups. But the evidence about new cleavage identities is inconclusive and conceptual issues remain unresolved. The article suggests that to move ahead, researchers should draw on synergies between political science and sociology who today are converging on a renewed interest in the social bases of politics. Specifically, the article synthesizes insights from cleavage theory and Bourdieusian sociology to develop a theoretical framework for researching social identities along the second dimension. We clarify what we should (not) be looking for when researching new cleavage identities and theorize three component processes of cleavage formation in which such identities come to bear. These are social closure, through which the sociability of groups is delimited; classification struggles, in which elite and lay actors seek to impose as authoritative and legitimate certain schemes of belonging and exclusion; and the freezing of social identities by sustained antagonistic political mobilization over time. Cleavage research and Bourdieusian sociology each contribute to an understanding of these processes with different theoretical premises and empirical tools. When put in dialogue, this double vision allows for a more well-founded debate about whether and how structural alignment along the second dimension is indeed consolidating on the level of social identities.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Event End Date:16 September 2021
Deposited On:02 Feb 2022 13:12
Last Modified:30 Mar 2022 13:50
Publisher:s.n.
OA Status:Green
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English