Both religious blocs incorporated sections of the working and middle classes, whereas the secular forces divided along class lines (working-class Socialists; middle/upper-class Liberals). Separate political parties represented each bloc (two for the Protestants) and politics was characterized by bargaining and accommodation between them. Many other social institutions were similarly constituted: for example, trade unions, media, voluntary associations, social welfare, and education. Patterns of elite formation, friendship, marriage, job recruitment, and other social relations were also affected.
Political scientists have been interested in how mutual accommodation, cross-cutting ideologies (such as nationalism), and the diverse class composition of some of the blocs have allowed democratic institutions to survive in this divided society. However, from the 1960s the cleavages began to erode–with, for example, mergers between the religious parties. A growing secularization of society and the rise of new social and political concerns has led some to conclude that pillarization is of little contemporary relevance.
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