Sometimes it feels you can predict the issue of the demonstration by the looks of it. Sharing a structural position in society aligns fears, hopes and dreams. When collective demands politicize and structural groups organize institutionally as such, a metaphorical cleavage of social inequalities emerges. Demonstrations are always based on either side of such a cleavage. Crowds will align to the cleavage in which the protest event roots in terms of social class, political values and organizational embeddedness.
When comparing the crowd-cleavage alignment within street demonstrations in four European countries, we argue that the cleavage structure in a country in turn influences this process of alignment. Cleavages can be salient or pacified. In countries with a salient class cleavage, there remains less space for other cleavages. In these contexts demonstrations attract their own specific target groups, which leads to a selective protest crowd. Contrarily, in countries with a pacified class cleavage, there is enough space for other cleavage issues. In this context, social movement organizations use broad mobilizing frames in order to speak to an encompassing mobilization potential. This leads to diverse crowds in demonstrations. As a result, in a pacified context there is less alignment between issue and crowd.