Conference Agenda

RN32_04b: Established and Emerging Cleavages
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Hans Joerg Trenz, University of Copenhagen
Location: GM.339
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Low-skilled workers’ political actions: from RRPP vote to protests. A comparison between Italy, France and Spain

Davide Rocchetti, Katia Pilati

University of Trento, Italy

Starting from the 1980s low-skilled workers have remained long excluded from the European political sphere. This occurred partly because of declining trade union membership and industrial conflicts and partly because of increasing electoral abstention. In the last two decades however, we have witnessed a political re-incorporation of low-skilled workers fueled by two processes. On the one hand, hit by growing unemployment and temporary jobs intensified by the 2008 great recession, low-skilled workers have joined students, young people, and migrants in broad coalitions protesting on cross-cutting issues such as social exclusions, austerity measures, struggles challenging neo-liberal policies. On the other, extant research has observed the progressive increase in voting preferences by low-skilled workers for radical right populist parties (RRPP). This paper aims to understand low-skilled workers’ changes in electoral and protest politics in the last two decades in three countries: Italy, France and Spain. Both France and Italy have experienced rising rates of RRPP, namely Front National (FN) now Rassemblement National (RN) in France, and Lega (once Northern Lega) in Italy which both have low-skilled workers as major constituencies. In contrast, in Spain, a left-wing populist party, Podemos, has been largely successful since 2014 European elections. We will examine these differences by analysing low-skilled workers’ voting and engagement in protests in France, Italy and Spain in the last two decades (2000-2020) using the cumulative European Social Survey (ESS) dataset.

Nostalgia, Societal Cleavages, And The Modernization Project: Georgians’ Attitudes Towards The European Union

Rati Shubladze, David Sichinava

CRRC Georgia, Georgia

This paper looks at the attitudes of Georgians towards the country’s integration in the European Union. We argue that the binary opposition between pro- and anti-EU stances reflects deeper societal division along ideological cleavages, specifically, their attitudes towards different projects of societal modernization.

The process of Europeanization is strongly associated with modernization (Featherstone & Kazamanias, 2000; Berezin & Díez-Medrano, 2008). In Georgian context, modernization and Europeanization were usually used interchangeably (Nodia, 2001 cited in Pelkmans, 2006). Georgia’s post-Socialist modernizing reforms clearly bore neoliberal characteristics. Therefore, it definitely led to rising inequality and the emergence of “winners” and “losers” of transformation. Seemingly, this also contributed to the growing Euroscepticism and the nostalgia towards alternative model of modernization – the Soviet Union (Derluguian & Earle, 2010).

Two waves of cross-sectional nationwide polls conducted in Spring of 2017 and 2018 show that Georgian society is polarized when it comes to the attitudes towards the country’s European integration. Moreover, the poll numbers fluctuate significantly through ethnic and geographic lines. Differences arise among the representatives of various age, educational, and socio-economic groups. Although we show that disparities evaporate when controlling for the respondents’ attitudes towards alternative modernization project such as the Soviet Union.

Based on the societal cleavage theory of Lipset and Rokkan we argue that the respondents’ attitudes to closer integration with the West mirror the ideological cleavages in the society, which emerged along the public attitudes towards different modernization projects. We hypothesize that the prevalence of these cleavages might be predicted by the attitudes towards “modernization” and “alternative modernization” discourses in Georgian society.

Migration: A New Cleavage In European Societies

Daniele Petrosino

Università degli studi "Aldo Moro" BARI, Italy

The migration issue is now one of the most conflicting issues within political forces, public opinion and is reflected in electoral attitudes. The division contained in it was analyzed through cleavage theory (Hooghe and Marks 2018).

This paper will analyze the way in which immigration is treated by cleavage theory, focusing on some emerging contradictions in it.

Immigration is producing profound divergences in the democratic systems of European countries. The growing push towards political expressions called sovereignism re-proposes the nation-state as the main container of representation with the aim of limiting as much as possible access to the different rights of citizenship of immigrants in European countries.

The cleavage theory reflects this situation because it analyzes the relationship between the representation system and the divisions present in society. These divisions do not always correspond to their projection in the political framework. In the case of migration, this detachment is evident both in the definition of the actors who act on the political scene (the cleavage is entirely internal to the natives, although it regards another social actor present within the society) and of the claims they express (the social protection question). On this contradiction the "sovereign" parties build their consent, through the construction of closing mechanisms (Parkin 1979), producing a differentiated exclusion that increases the fragmentation within the immigrant category.

The paper will try to focus on the relationship between the production of differentiated exclusion and the formation of new cleavages in European societies, exploring the possibility of integrating categories such as super-diversity (Vertovec 2007) and intersectionality into the cleavage theory (Collins 2016).

Relating Cultural Repertoires, Cleavage Structures and Discursive Opportunities to Events. A Theoretical Outline and an Application to the Case of 9/11 in the American and Dutch Public Spheres

Thijs van Dooremalen

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, The

The theoretical perspectives of cultural repertoires, cleavage structures, and discursive opportunities are fruitful and prominent approaches for scholars who do cross-national sociological or political scientific research. Yet a conceptual gap in each of these perspectives is that they do not have a satisfactory answer to the question of how change in response to events can occur. To fill in this gap, I propose a typology that explains why some happenings take on the color of existing trends, while others become motives to transform them. This can be either because they are ‘focusing events’, that confirm dominant cultural or political patterns, or since they are ‘shock events’, which form a break from them. I illustrate this typology empirically by using a mixed methods-combination of text analysis (topic modeling and qualitative content analysis) to investigate the differing meanings that 9/11 has been accorded in the American and Dutch public spheres. This investigation shows that 9/11 has become a shock event on the issue of safety in the American case, as it broke with the self-image of the United States as a safe, militarily impenetrable nation. In contrast, it has turned into a focusing event concerning the issue of Islam in the Dutch case, because it confirmed the problematizations of Muslims which public actors in the Netherlands had already developed in the years before 2001.