Please explain what the term "cross cutting cleavages" means.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea of cross-cutting cleavages is that most people in a democratic society have group loyalties or group identities that pull them different ways.  In other words, most people have aspects of their lives that pull them towards different political parties.

As an example of this, I live in a rural area of the west.  My identity as a rural Westerner pulls me towards being a conservative/Republican.  On the other hand, I am half white and half non-white and my mixed racial identity pulls me towards being a liberal/Democrat.

In this way, many people are pulled in different ways by different aspects of who they are.