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Unit 3

3.9 Challenges of Political and Social Cleavages

5 min readโ€ขnovember 15, 2020

kelly-cotton

Kelly Cotton


AP Comparative Governmentย ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ

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3.8: Political and Social Cleavages and 3.9: Challenges of Political and Social Cleavages

The topic of cleavages is often a very difficult one for students to understand, so I'll take extra care to make sure you have a very clear idea of what you need to know to be successful on the exam!

3.9: Challenges of Political and Social Cleavages

Country Cleavages

CountrySocial Cleavage and ExampleGovernment ResponsesSocial Cleavage Impacts on course countries
UKIn the United Kingdom, ethnic and regional differences between nations such as the Scottish, English, Welsh, and Irish; religious differences between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland; and racial tensions between whites and non-European minorities whose heritage is related to the United Kingdomโ€™s colonial history.In the modern era the UK has begun to devolve power to help with ethnic and regional differences in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.Separatist movements have emerged in the United Kingdom as a result of the social cleavages. Other groups demanding autonomy, but not independence, have emerged in the United Kingdom.
MexicoIn Mexico, ethnic divisions between the Amerindian (indigenous) population and whites and mestizos, and regional divisions between the north and the south.As a result of the Zapatas uprisings of 1994 in Chiapas the Mexican government granted indigenous people the right of self-determination with the incorporation of those rights into the Constitution. Mexico has tried poverty reduction policies to help the economically depressed southern regions of the country.Other groups demanding autonomy, but not independence, have emerged in Mexico.
NigeriaIn Nigeria, ethnic divisions among more than 250 ethnic groups (including Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo), and religious and regional cleavages between the north (predominantly Muslim) and the south (where Christians and animists are concentrated).WIth the 1999 Constitution Federalism was installed into the government to create a strong central government that distributes power to the states and allows Sharia law in the North.The government has also seized territory and used the military against Islamic separatist groups like Boko Haram.Separatist movements have emerged in Nigeria as a result of the social cleavages. Ethnicity has played a more significant role in Nigeria than in Mexico because of different colonial histories and a greater diversity and politicization of ethnic/religious identities in Nigeria.
RussiaIn Russia, cleavages between ethnic Russians, who are more than 80 percent of the population and tend to be Russian Orthodox, and minority, non-Russian populations (including the Chechens in the CaucasusRussia has fought two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s to prevent separatists from leaving.Putin appointed leadership to rule with brute repression to suppress the separatist movement in recent years.Separatist movements have emerged in Russia as a result of the social cleavages.
ChinaIn China, ethnic and regional divisions between the majority Han ethnic group and at least 55 recognized ethnic minorities, such as the Uighurs in the northwest and the Tibetans in the southwest, and between areas that have developed at different rates.Use of re-education camps in the Xinjang province for political socialization. Hundreds of thousands Muslim Uighurs are detained and given vocational training. Indoctrination to learn the Chinese language and obey the laws to try and prevent separatists and terrorism.Separatist movements have emerged in China as a result of the social cleavages.
IranIn Iran, religious divisions between the Shiโ€™a Muslim majority and members of other religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, have resulted in a threatening atmosphere despite official recognition; within practitioners of Islam, there are divisions between the Shiโ€™a majority and those who are Sunni. There are also ethnic cleavages between the majority Persians and several ethnic minorities, including Azerbaijanis and Kurds.The state has officially recognized minority religions, but groups like the Bahaโ€™i faith have been executed, imprisoned, tortured, schools closed, and community property taken by the state. The Constitution does not mention Sunnis and their rights are unclear.There have been on going clashes between the Kurds and the Iranian military.Separatist movements have emerged in Iran as a result of the social cleavages.
As you can see from the chart above all the course countries face challenges in securing stability in multinational states with a multitude of social and political challenges. Those challenges as evidenced above include:
  1. Conflicting interests and competition among groups and political parties
  2. Perceived lack of governmental authority and legitimacy
  3. Pressure for autonomy/secession, intergroup conflict, terrorism, and civil war
  4. Encroachment of neighboring states that sense government weakness and vulnerability
As a recap, cleavages are internal divisions typically based on ethnicity, religion, geography, and/or class. Those divisions can become politicized, and this impacts political culture and political behavior. More specifically, the course focuses on how cleavages impact the relationship of citizens with their governments.
State reactions to cleavages can range from brute repression to recognition of ethnic/religious minorities and the creation of autonomous regions and/or representation of minorities in governmental institutions. The way that states react can impact the legitimacy (conformity to the law) citizens give to their regimes. Authoritarian states tend to react much more harshly to social cleavages that become politicized in order to maintain control and order.

Unit 3 In Review

This unit is mainly focused on the interactions between the state and society. A countryโ€™s political patterns are influenced by the characteristics and demands of its population.
We first explored civil society which are voluntary associations that are separate from the state but help individuals to interact with the state.
Then, we moved into a discussion of political culture, ideologies, as well as political beliefs and values. With these topics, we focused on the core beliefs and values that address the tension between order and liberty, and shape the relationship between a state and its citizens.
The latter half of the unit focuses on how citizens formally and informally participate in politics and the differences in how authoritarian regimes and democratic regimes support or limit participation. In conjunction with participation, we explored how various regimes support or limit individual civil liberties or civil rights.
Finally, we ended the unit with a discussion of how internal divisions, called cleavages, become politicized and impact relationships between groups and the state.

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