Chapter 3

Chapter Summary:

In this chapter, we will discuss the main theory of European politics elaborated by the Norwegian Stein Rokkan. The theory was developed over several decades until his death in 1979. The chapter is divided in four main parts:
• Towards a new understanding of European politics
• Stein Rokkan theory of European politics
• The postmodernisation of European politics
• Conclusions
The main aim of the chapter is to raise awareness of the theoretical foundations of European politics and its transformation since the 1970s. While the second section is dedicated to the pioneering work of Stein Rokkan, the third section analyses the main transformations since his death.

Questions for Revision:

Explain what is the ‘freezing hypothesis’ of party systems and its main criticisms?

Compare the main political cleavages between the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

How relevant are historically grown political cleavages in contemporary Europe? Discuss using examples from at least two different regions of Europe.

Explain what is understood by ‘post-materialism’ and what impact, if any it has on European societies.

Is support and opposition to European integration becoming a new political cleavage.

Further Reading

Stein Rokkan theory and party systems
Bartolini, Stefano (2000), The Political Mobilization of the European Left, 1860–1980:The
Class Cleavage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
–––– (2005), Restructuring Europe: Centre Formation, System Building, and Political
Structuring between the Nation State and the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University
Bartolini, Stefano and Peter Mair (1990), Identity, Competition, and Electoral Availability:
The Stabilisation of European Electorates 1985–1985. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Broughton, David and Hans-Martien ten Napel (eds), Religion and Mass Electoral Behaviour
in Europe. London: Routledge.
Caramani, Daniele (2004), The Nationalization of Politics: The Formation of National
Electorates and Party Systems in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Flora, Peter (1999),Introduction and Interpretation. In: Peter Flora with Stein Kuhnle und
Derek Urwin (eds), State Formation, Nation-Building and Mass Politics in Europe: The
Theory of Stein Rokkan. Oxford: OUP, pp. 1–91.
Flora, Peter with Stein Kuhnle and Derek Urwin (eds) (1999), State Formation, Nation-
Building and Mass Politics in Europe. The Theory of Stein Rokkan. Oxford: OUP.
Franklin, Mark (1985), The Decline of Class Voting in Britain: Changes in the Basis of
Electoral Choice 1964–1983. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Kitschelt, Herbert (1995b), The Transformation of European Social Democracy. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Lipset, Seymour Martin and Stein Rokkan (1967), Cleavage structures, party systems and
voter alignments: an introduction. In: Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan (eds), Party
Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross National Perspectives. New York: The Free Press,
pp. 1–64.
Mair, Peter (1997), Party System Change.Approaches and Interpretations. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Smith, Gordon (1972), Politics in Western Europe. London: Heinemann, Chapter 1.
Van Biezen, Ingrid (2003), Political Parties in New Democracies: Party Organization in
Southern and East-Central Europe. Basingstroke: Palgrave.

Welfare state and social change
Esping-Andersen, Gosta (ed.), Changing Classes: Stratification and Mobility in Post-Industrial
Societies. London: Sage.
Ferrera, Maurizio (2005), The Boundaries of Welfare: European Integration and the New
Spatial Politics of Social Protection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Inglehart, Ronald and Christian Welzel (2005), Modernization, Cultural Change and
Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jessop, Bob (2002), The Future of the Capitalist State. London: Polity.

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