English title: Education: The Contours of a New Cleavage? Comparing 23 Countries

Author(s): Anchrit Wille - Mark Bovens -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2013


In recent years, political scientists and sociologists have started to pay attention to the importance of education levels in the rise of a new, cultural political cleavage in western, post-industrial societies (Van der Waal et al, 2007; Houtman et. al. 2008; Kriesi et al. 2008; Stubager 2010). The aim of this paper is to identify through a comparative, explorative analysis, to what extent such an educational cleavage in politics can be observed across Europe. With the use of the European Social Survey (ESS) data for 23 European countries the paper explores three elements of political cleavages—socio-demographic characteristics, values and political preferences, and party formation. We find evidence for the emergence of a new conflict dimension in politics. The well-educated and the less educated can be perceived as distinct social groups with specific, structural socio-demographic characteristics and different values and preferences regarding socio-cultural issues. This emerging, social and cultural cleft between the less and well-educated has had its effect on party formation in many European democracies. However, the degree to which the contours of these new divides have been crystallized out and are transformed into a full cleavage, is stronger in Western and Northern countries than elsewhere in Europe.

Conference name: 20th International Conference of Europeanists, Crisis and Contingency: States of (In)stability

Location: Amsterdam

Start date: Jun 25, 2013

Type: Paper

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