Beyond Left and Right: The End of an Old Order?

  • Jonathan WheatleyEmail author


This chapter outlines the theoretical frameworks that have been employed to understand political competition in Europe. I explain how theorists have defined dimensions of political competition, starting with a critical evaluation of “left” and “right”. I go on to explore how scholars have recently proposed that politics in Europe is “two-dimensional”, defined by one economic left–right dimension and one cultural dimension. I also examine how these dimensions may be underpinned by social structure, identify the notion of societal cleavages proposed by Lipset and Rokkan (1967), and highlight recent work that suggests that globalisation may be forming the basis for a new cleavage. I finally explore how cleavage structures and political competition have evolved in Britain, pointing to the growing relevance of the cultural dimension of political competition and explaining how scholars of British politics have sought to explain recent changes in patterns of political competition.


Ideological dimensions Cleavages Left Right TAN/GAL 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

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