Semenenko Irina, Lapkin Vladimir , Pantin Vladimir
Social Cleavages and Political Divides in a Theoretical Perspective: Criteria for Assessment and Classification
Publication Type:

ISSN 1026-9487

DOI 10.17976/jpps/2021.05.05

Social cleavages and their political projections are key systemic elements in the evolutionary transformations of modern societies. Cleavage theory seeks to reflect the ambiguous and dynamic realities of contemporary divisions, but concepts and notions describing them often remain unclear. An overview of the mainstream theoretical and methodological approaches to assessing social and political divisions in contemporary societies indicates three key analytical standpoints: a) classical theory of social cleavages and their political projections (following Stein Rokkan and Seymour Martin Lipset); b) the politicization of new social divisions and of their potential transformation into competitive resources for promoting political projects; and c) political divides as drivers of social development. A correlation of these approaches can contribute to promoting a complex methodology of assessing political transformations in a rapidly changing contemporary world order. Economic and social inequality, cultural divides, and contentious politics are important indicators of growing divisions, alongside an ardent public discussion and a consistent research agenda on cultural and socio-political polarization. The authors consider institutionalized political divisions between identity groups (in the logic of Arend Lipjhart) as one of the possible characteristics (but not the only one) of divided societies, and argue for a wider approach to this concept. Growing cleavages of different natures are integral parts of contemporary social dynamics, but not all are politically relevant: politicizing cleavages is an inherent characteristic of “divided societies”, and criteria for their assessment are proposed. These criteria are applicable in the framework of both territorially localized (the nation state) and extraterritorial (non-state) communities. A cognitive map of cleavages and their political projections depicts the current state of the research field and offers insights for updating the research agenda.

Keywords: divided societies | social cleavages | nation state | extraterritorial communities | political divides | polarization | conflicts | identity politics | cognitive map/mapping |

Russian Science Citation Index


Semenenko Irina, Lapkin Vladimir , Pantin Vladimir
Social Cleavages and Political Divides in a Theoretical Perspective: Criteria for Assessment and Classification. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 5. P. 56-77. (In Russ.)

Semenenko Irina
Dilemmas of National Identity: Political Risks and Social Inputs.

Pantin Vladimir , Lapkin Vladimir
State-Building in The Republic of Belarus: The Role of Social Cleavages and Political Divides. — South-Russian Journal of Social Sciences. 2022. Vol. 23. No. 2. Pp. 6-17.

Prokhorenko Irina
Territorial Communities in Political Space of Modern Spain. Moscow, IMEMO RAN, 2010

Identity: The Individual, Society and Politics. An Encycpopedia. Edited by I. Semenenko. – Moscow, Ves Mir, 2017. – 992 p.

Lapkin Vladimir
Territorial state and complex society: the imperative of co-evolution in the space of politics

Semenenko Irina, Lapkin Vladimir , Bardin Andrey, Pantin Vladimir
Between the State and the Nation: Dilemmas of Identity Policy in Post-Soviet Societies

Lapkin Vladimir
Cleavages in Territorial Communities, Internal Consolidation of National States, and New Challenges of Extraterritoriality

Semenenko Irina, Lapkin Vladimir , Pantin Vladimir
Identity in the System of Coordinates of the World Development.

Sigachev Maxim, Arteev Sergei
Социально-политические кливажи во Франции и Германии и фактор правого популизма // Международные процессы. 2022. Т. 20, № 2 (69). С. 117-138. DOI 10.17994/IT.2022.

Pantin Vladimir
National and civilization identity: Russian specificity / Pantin Vladimir I.

Semenenko Irina
Дискурсы развития в социальных науках: в преддверии этического поворота // Полис. Политические исследования. 2021. № 2. С. 25-45. DOI 10.17976/jpps/2021.02.03.

Chugrov Sergey
Political Processes: How «Subjective» Are Subjects of the RF

Prokhorenko Irina
National identity in the conditions of regional integration: case of Spain

Semenenko Irina
Horizons of Responsible Development: from Discourse to Governance

Образ России как субъекта формирования современного мироустройства. Отв. ред. О.Н. Быков М., ИМЭМО РАН, 2008, 56 с.

Prokhorenko Irina
Ethnopolitical conflict and politics of identity in Latin America

Semenenko Irina
Prospects for identity research in the social sciences: promoting non-conflict public discussion (interview of professor Lyubov’ A. Fadeeva with corresponding member of RAS Irina S. Semenenko). Political science. 2020, N 4, P. 74–85. DOI:

Lapkin Vladimir
Пространственно-территориальные альтернативы политического развития [Текст] / В. В. Лапкин // История и современность. – 2018. – № 4. – С. 30-49. DOI: 10.30884/iis/2018.04.02.

Gadzhiev Kamaludin
О кризисе национальной идентичности [Электронный ресурс] / К.С. Гаджиев // Мир и политика. – 2013. – № 1.
Related publications

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment

First news
Institute News

On June 13, 2024, the Conference “New World Order and Technological Revolution” of the IMEMO Center for International Security will be held in the Academician Inozemtsev conference hall (3rd floor).



On June 10, 2024, the website of the journal “Russia in Global Affairs” published an article “Victory in Defiance” by Leyla Turayanova on the June 4 results of general elections to the lower house of parliament in India.


Recently Published