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Cleavage transformations and the new electoral coalition of social democracy in Belgium.Social class, ideological profiles, welfare coalitions and ethnic minority group interests

This PhD research deals with the electoral paradoxes of social democracy. Combining theories on social class, welfare attitudes and cleavage transformation, the research aims to provide insight into voting for social democratic parties and their competitors in Western Europe – and particularly in Belgium. First, it argues that de-industrialization has permanently altered the social class structure of Western European societies, thus affecting social democratic parties’ ability to rely on an industrial working class electorate. Second, it builds upon the notion that cleavages have been fundamentally transformed in Western Europe – notably affecting the cultural dimension of attitudes. However, this research focuses more strongly on the transformation of the economic dimension, arguing 1) that social democratic parties have been unable to sufficiently translate their Third Way ideology into a broad electoral coalition, and 2) that radical right parties successfully appeal to welfare populist voters, who combine attitudes in support for redistribution with an exclusive conceptualization of the solidarity community. Finally, this PhD research discusses the rise of another cleavage due to the enfranchisement of ethnic minorities: the ethnic cleavage. It is argued that this potential social democratic electorate depends on social democratic parties’ defense of ethnic pluralism.

Date:1 Jan 2016 →  15 Dec 2020
Keywords:social democracy, voting behavior, cleavage transformation
Disciplines:Applied sociology, Policy and administration, Social psychology, Social stratification, Social theory and sociological methods, Sociology of life course, family and health, Other sociology and anthropology
Project type:PhD project