Is there a science of division? (i.e. Models of the phenomenon that communities often split into two blocs with some degree of mutual antagonism. And/or empirical data that such models could be compared against.)
Interesting models and data would give insight into questions like:
- Is this really a common phenomenon? Or just something we tend to notice, but which is not any more or less common than other patterns?
- Why usually just two big blocs, with maybe a few smaller ones? Why not other kinds of distribution?
- Are there circumstances that would tend to give rise to this?
- Is it something that occurs more in Western culture than other cultures?
- What is the life cycle of the pattern? How does it typically form, evolve and dissipate over time?
- What factors determine the degree of antagonism between the groups?
As you might guess, the question was raised in my mind by current US politics, and specifically a recent Mefi thread that mentioned the Median Voter Theorem
. But the kind of "science" I'd like to hear about would be much broader than politics in modern democracies.
It might for example encompass the Protestant/Catholic or Sunni/Shia dviide in past centuries, tribal divisions in Rwanda, or for that matter Emacs vs Vi and Mac vs PC culture wars.
An example of the kind of thing I'd find interesting are complex systems models of urban segregation
, which try to explain some ways that people can end up clustering physically. I'm envisaging that there might be similar models that try to model "clustering mentally".
Any models or data that give insights into the kind of questions above would be great though.