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Beyond the cleavage theory: the position of minority politics in political science

Csaba Mate Sarnyai
Karoli Gaspar University of the Hungarian Reformed Church
Tibor Pap
Csaba Mate Sarnyai
Karoli Gaspar University of the Hungarian Reformed Church
Open Panel

Abstract

The focal problem of this presentation is the disciplinary and interdisciplinary classification of minority politics. Our aim is to situate the issue in the theoretical discourse in such a way that does not cause contradictions between the examined problems and the manifold set of tools used in disciplinary and political practice. Thus, the first section addresses the politico-theoretical (through history of both power and form of power) origination of ‘minority-ness’. It is way to point out an important feature of the structural phenomenon commonly referred to only as ‘the lack of dominant position’: that it is grounded by the essence of the majority representation. This approach is intended to shed light, beside the historical roots of being a minority, on the theoretical conditions of its elimination. Our interpretation owes much to the concepts of “historical patterns” by Ervin Csizmadia, an approach that moves beyond the traditional theories of cleavage and pillarisation. The second part examines ‘minority-ness’ with the use of sociolinguistic analogies, with regards to the semantic interrelations between language politics, language planning and minority politics, minority engineering and management. The third section, leaving the purely theoretical derivations, compares the trends of minority politics that are present in Eastern-Central Europe. With this, we intend to find answers as to how the models (either of personal or regional principles) of optimal representation (and thus, the institutions of minority politics) can be associated with the most fruitful solutions for the relevant and the so-called residual minority communities. The fourth section examines the interrelations between the previously described main elements (majority, minority, original community/source nation, supranational/international agents). This system of interrelations is positioned, using the politico-theoretical arguments of the first chapter, in the interpretative matrix for treating present-day social problems. The cause-and-effect framework of the interpretation is viewed in the process of the reproduction and objectivation of the minority-based social inequities. The fifth part aims at grasping minority politics from the heresthetical (heresthetics, Riker) perspective. Also, we attempt to formulate a system of segmentational principles that is able to override the inflexibility of the traditional frameworks. The examples of the particular chapters come from the results of the authors’ minority researches, done in the last 3 years. The primary aim is not the detailed analysis of the particular projects/authors. Rather, our goal is to position these in the unified socio-theoretical framework, especially along the general notions that can be derived from the theoretical and methodological discourse of the minority research. We intend to claim that, by such a discursive cooperation, the ‘minority-ness’ can escape from the partial realm of such phenomena that only rarely and incidentally enter the mainstream scientific interests. Also, by investigating the issue more carefully, results of generic validity can be obtained about the deep structure of society.