Franz Urban Pappi: Politisierte Sozialstruktur und Wählerverhalten bei Bundestagswahlen [Politicized Social Structures and Voting Behavior in German Federal Elections].
The social cleavages of religious denomination and class which once were essential in the formation of the German party system have lost their significance for the contemporary behavior of German voters. This decline is a long-term process that will be demonstrated in this HSR Supplement. Not only was this social shift responsible for the gradual changes in voting behavior, but also the political parties that influenced it – therefore, the term politicized social structure plays an important role in this selection of articles written by Franz Urban Pappi over the last forty years.
From the consolidating vote of the social-liberal coalition in 1972 to the federal elections in united Germany, most of the articles in this HSR Supplement have been written in response to a specific election. The historical nature of these articles show not only the social and political changes occurring at the times of elections, but also provide insight into the thematic cycles of German psephology. Since the 1970s, trends in German psephology have varied greatly. In the 1970s, for example, the focus by social and political scientists was placed on the trends of unionization. During the 1980s, scholars were interested in examining the rise of the Green Party, and in the 1990s, the establishment of the democratic party system in East Germany became the focus of researchers. Regardless of the focus of scholars, however, the availability of poll data in complete form has permitted scholars to chart changes in the politicized social structures in Germany independent of research trends.
The articles in this HSR Supplement are divided into four parts. In Part I, the term cleavage and the research approaches to examining social cleavages are discussed. Part II contains an analysis of the stable “Three-Party-System” present in the 1970s. In Part III, driving forces and actors behind the politicized social divisions of religion, social class and social movements are examined. The more recently published articles in Part IV make use of databases with accumulated poll data to explore the opportunity of performing analyses covering generations of voters in the long term. Through these analyses, it becomes clear that, despite sociostructural interests remaining significant for party preference, the traditional politicized social divisions become less important to subsequent generations of German voters over time.