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26 Comp. Pol. Stud. 3 (1993-1994)

handle is hein.journals/compls26 and id is 1 raw text is: 





For most parts of the 20th century, class and religious predispositions guided individuals'
perceptions of the political space in Western Europe. Recently, however, analysts have noted the
weakening of class and religious cleavages. Moreover, new social movements emerged in
Western Europe, despite the inapplicability of traditional class and partisan cues to ecological
issues. In light of the presumed lack of sophistication of mass publics, these developments raise
the following question. What mental structures, if any, do individuals employ in evaluating
competing Old and New Politics issues? In an attempt to answer the question, we analyze citizens'
environmental belief systems in four West European countries. We find that environmental belief
systems are substantially constrained by general political predispositions in Germany and the
Netherlands. In contrast, environmental attitudes are significantly less constrained in France and
Great Britain. These crossnational variations in belief systems constraint are attributed to varying
activity levels of environmental elites. The implications of these findings for the sources of belief
systems constraint and for the sophistication of mass beliefs are assessed.






                            ENVIRONMENTAL BELIEF

                 SYSTEMS IN WESTERN EUROPE

                   A   Hierarchical Model of Constraint



                                           ROBERT ROHRSCHNEIDER
                                                         Indiana  University





S ocial cleavages structured individuals' perception of the political
      space  in Western  Europe  for most parts of the 20th century (Lipset &
Rokkan,   1967). Members   of the working class, for instance, tended to derive
issue positions from  cues  received from  unions  or leftist parties; religious
believers often obtained  cues from their respective church  group. The  influ-
ence  of established elites on the foundations of mass  belief systems  is also
reflected in the level of attitudinal consistency: The more partisan segments
of electorates, who  are more  exposed   to political messages  of party elites


AUTHOR'S   NOTE:  I would like to thank Mark Peffleyfor the valuable suggestions he made in
numerous discussions; he, Russell J. Dalton, Charly Davis, Ronald Langley, Richard G. Niemi,
and Ellen Riggle made very helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

COMPARATIVE  POLITICAL STUDIES, Vot. 26 No. 1, April 1993 3-29
O 1993 Sage Publications, Inc.


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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