Social and Political Cleavages in the Second Reich and Weimar Republic

  • Charles Lees
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)


This chapter uses the Lipset-Rokkan (1967) model of social cleavages to provide a historical perspective of the development of social and political cleavages in Germany from the Reformation, through the Second Reich, and on to the Weimar Republic. Because of the lack of micro-level data, the idea of the voter as analogous to a customer with individual preferences remains underplayed at this point in the study. However, it is possible to retain a strong sense of political agency on the part of political agents such as Bismarck. The chapter is divided into three sections. First, an account of the development of political cleavages in the Second Reich (1871–1919): establishing and structuring a pattern of party competition that persisted into the early years of the Federal Republic. Second, a discussion of the social base of party politics in the Weimar Republic (1919–33): Germany’s first ill-starred experience of popular democracy. Finally, the chapter ends with a brief summary of the data and arguments.


Party Politics Party System German State Social Base Weimar Republic 
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Copyright information

© Charles Lees 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Lees
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldUK

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