chapter  5
33 Pages

The Played Upon: Society

WithMarjorie Castle, Ray Taras

In this chapter, the author looks first and foremost at social cleavages, to understand how society itself affects politics, to understand how societal characteristics may both limit and create political possibilities. Cleavages are thus both the bread and butter of democratic politics — creating differences in interests, ideologies, and identities that may translate into differing policy preferences — and the potential fault lines on which a society can tear itself apart. The fundamental religious cleavage in Poland lies somewhere between devout and regularly practicing Catholics and those in whose lives the church and religious practice do not play such a large role. In examining political protests in the chapter, the author finally found a pattern of political interaction in the Third Republic focusing around the economic self-interest of social groups. It stands in contrast to the political cleavages based on relationships with religion and with the communist past that characterize elites and the voting public.