Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them.
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Political culture and social structure are empirically related to political stability. The Anglo—American democracies display a high degree of stability and effectiveness. The Continental European systems, on the other hand, tend to be unstable; they are characterized by political immobilism. These propositions state that the psychological cross-pressures resulting from membership in different groups with diverse interests and outlooks lead to moderate attitudes. Cross-pressures operate not only at the mass but also at the elite level: the leaders of social groups with heterogeneous and overlapping memberships will tend to find it necessary to adopt moderate positions.
The relative stability of American democracy, [David Truman in The Governmental Process ] argues, is the result of two factors: multiple membership All of them belong to many groups. The result is that group membership is overlapping, and no group can command the total loyalty of any individual.
Individual opinions are moderated by this fact, and the leadership of an organization, usually somewhat more committed to its goals than the rank and file, is limited in how far it can go. The evidence available suggests that the chances for stable democracy are enhanced to the extent that social strata, groups and individuals have a number of cross-cutting politically relevant affiliations.
To the degree that a significant proportion of the population is pulled among conflicting forces, such groups and individuals have an interest in reducing the intensity of political conflict. The more reinforced and correlated the sources of cleavage, the less the likelihood for political tolerance. Almond consistently uses the two criteria of role structure and political culture.
The best aggregators are parties in two-party systems like the Anglo-American democracies, but the larger the number and the smaller the size of the parties in a system, the less effectively the aggregation function will be performed; in the Continental European multi-party systems only a minimum of aggregation takes place. Like the Anglo-American countries, the Scandinavian states have a high degree of subsystem autonomy.
But one finds a severely limited subsystem autonomy and considerable interpenetration of parties, interest groups, and the media of communication in the Low Countries, Switzerland, and also in Austria. The application of the second criterion — political culture — leads to a similar result. Therefore, on the basis of the two criteria of political culture and role structure, the Western democracies can be satisfactorily classified into two broad but clearly bounded categories:.
The second category of the above twofold typology is too broad, however, because it includes both highly stable systems e. According to the theory of cross-cutting cleavages, one would expect the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Austria, with subcultures divided from each other by mutually reinforcing cleavages, to exhibit great immobilism and instability.
But they do not. In general, deviant case analysis can lead to the discovery of additional relevant variables, and in this particular instance, a third variable can account for the stability of the consociational democracies: the behavior of the political elites. The grand coalition cabinet is the most typical and obvious, but not the only possible, consociational solution for a fragmented system.
The essential characteristic of consociational democracy is not so much any particular institutional arrangement as the deliberate joint effort by the elites to stabilize the system.
The desire to avoid political competition may be so strong that the cartel of elites may decide to extend the consociational principle to the electoral level in order to prevent the passions aroused by elections from upsetting the carefully constructed, and possibly fragile, system of cooperation. This may apply to a single election or to a number of successive elections.
There are three factors that appear to be strongly conducive to the establishment or maintenance of cooperation among elites in a fragmented system. Such distinct lines of cleavage appear to be conducive to consociational democracy and political stability. The explanation is that subcultures with widely divergent outlooks and interests may coexist without necessarily being in conflict; conflict arises only when they are in contact with each other. Distinct lines of cleavage among the subcultures are also conducive to consociational democracy because they are likely to be concomitant with a high degree of internal political cohesion of the subcultures.
This is vital to the success of consociational democracy. The elites have to cooperate and compromise with each other without losing the allegiance and support of their own rank and file.
When the subcultures are cohesive political blocs, such support is more likely to be forthcoming. A second way in which distinct cleavages have a favorable effect on elite-mass relations in a consociational democracy is that they make it more likely that the parties and interest groups will be the organized representatives of the political subcultures.
If this is the case, the political parties may not be the best aggregators, but there is at least an adequate articulation of the interests of the subcultures. A final factor which favors consociational democracy is w idespread approval of the principle of government by elite cartel.
I am a chronic procrastinator. View all posts by wuishiu Skip to content. Therefore, on the basis of the two criteria of political culture and role structure, the Western democracies can be satisfactorily classified into two broad but clearly bounded categories: the Anglo-American, Old Commonwealth, and Scandinavian states the other European democracies, including France, Italy, Weimar Germany, the Low Countries, Austria, and Switzerland. This requires that they have the ability to transcend cleavages and to join in a common effort with the elites of rival subcultures.
This in turn depends on their commitment to the maintenance of the system and to the improvement of its cohesion and stability. Finally, all of the above requirements are based on the assumption that the elites understand the perils of political fragmentation. The most striking of these is the existence of external threats to the country. In all of the consociational democracies, the cartel of elites was either initiated or greatly strengthened during periods of international crisis, especially the First and Second World Wars.
A second factor favorable to consociational democracy, in the sense that it helps the elites to recognize the necessity of cooperation, is a multiple balance of power among the subcultures instead of either a dual balance of power or a clear hegemony by one subculture. Consociational democracy presupposes not only a willingness on the part of elites to cooperate but also a capability to solve the political problems of their countries. Consequently, a third favorable factor to inter-elite cooperation is a relatively low total load on the decision-making apparatus.
Political culture and social structure are empirically related to political stability. The Anglo—American democracies display a high degree of stability and effectiveness. The Continental European systems, on the other hand, tend to be unstable; they are characterized by political immobilism. These propositions state that the psychological cross-pressures resulting from membership in different groups with diverse interests and outlooks lead to moderate attitudes. Cross-pressures operate not only at the mass but also at the elite level: the leaders of social groups with heterogeneous and overlapping memberships will tend to find it necessary to adopt moderate positions. The relative stability of American democracy, [David Truman in The Governmental Process ] argues, is the result of two factors: multiple membership
Consociational Democracy by Arend Lijphart — Summary Extracts
Consociational states are often contrasted with states with majoritarian electoral systems. The goals of consociationalism are governmental stability, the survival of the power-sharing arrangements, the survival of democracy , and the avoidance of violence. When consociationalism is organised along religious confessional lines, as in Lebanon , it is known as confessionalism. Consociationalism is often seen as having close affinities with corporatism ; [ citation needed ] some consider it to be a form of corporatism while others claim that economic corporatism was designed to regulate class conflict , while consociationalism developed on the basis of reconciling societal fragmentation along ethnic and religious lines. Consociation was a term and concept discussed in the 17th century New England Confederation with reference to the interassociation and cooperation of the participant independently self-governing Congregational churches of the various colonial townships of the Massachusetts Bay Colony which were embedded in the civil legislature and magistracy . It was debated at length in the Boston Synod of ,  at the time when the Episcopalian Act of Uniformity was being introduced in England. Consociationalism was discussed in academic terms by the political scientist Arend Lijphart.