Cleavage is a feature on a female's chest created by well endowed mammary glands, or breasts and is often eye candy for the male. Cleavage is displayed and enhanced through designer bras and color enhancing makeup in hopes of attracting a desirable mate. When a potential mate is found, the pair may dance. Other forms of life think humans are silly.

The breaking of bonds between the component units of a macromolecule, for example amino acids in a polypeptide or nucleotide bases in a strand of DNA or RNA, usually by the action of enzymes.

From the BioTech Dictionary at Used with permission. For further information see the BioTech homenode.

Political-science jargon for a major split in a given society; the most common cleavages are ethnic, religious and economic.

Multiple cleavages in one society can be either "cross-cutting" or "reinforcing," which are assessments of the degree to which the multiple cleavages are congruent. That's best explained with an example: if you've got a society where some people are green and some people are blue, that's one cleavage. And then if some people are rich and some people are poor, that's another cleavage. If most of the green people are rich and most of the blue people are poor, you've got a reinforcing cleavage. If roughly equal numbers of each ethnic group are in each economic category, you've got a cross-cutting cleavage.

In general, cross-cutting cleavages contribute to social stability, while reinforcing cleavages are bad news. Combine a serious class divide with stark racial or religious differences and you've got the most basic components of a civil war starter kit. On the other hand, if the class divide cuts across the ethnic division, even the most committed demagogue would have difficulty whipping people up into a froth.

Cross-cutting cleavages tend to lead to political cultures of coalition-building and compromise; the United States is a fine example of this at its federal level, with its nearly non-existent party discipline and bills frequently being co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats.

Reinforcing cleavages, even in healthy democracies, lead to much more competitive politics where every election necessarily means one social group wins at the expense of the other or others. In Quebec, Canada, each election is a contest between the nationalist, ardently pro-francophone, broadly socialist Parti québécois and the federalist, more anglophone-sympathetic, broadly market-friendly Liberal Party.

In extreme cases, too many cleavages in a given society can lead to an atomized political culture that is only barely functional. Italy, with its dozens of different governing coalitions since the Second World War is one pretty good example. Israel, though it's much more functional in terms purely of its electoral politics, illustrates the point with a less extreme case, with its multiple parties founded variously on economic ideology, religious conviction, and positions on the peace process.

Cleav"age (?), n.


The act of cleaving or splitting.

2. Crystallog.

The quality possessed by many crystallized substances of splitting readily in one or more definite directions, in which the cohesive attraction is a minimum, affording more or less smooth surfaces; the direction of the dividing plane; a fragment obtained by cleaving, as of a diamond. See Parting.

3. Geol.

Division into laminae, like slate, with the lamination not necessarily parallel to the plane of deposition; -- usually produced by pressure.

Basal cleavage, cleavage parallel to the base of a crystal, or to the plane of the lateral axes. -- Cell cleavage Biol., multiplication of cells by fission. See Segmentation. -- Cubuc cleavage, cleavage parallel to the faces of a cube. -- Diagonal cleavage, cleavage parallel to ta diagonal plane. -- Egg clavage. Biol. See Segmentation. -- Lateral cleavage, cleavage parallel to the lateral planes. -- Octahedral, Dodecahedral, or Rhombohedral, cleavage, cleavage parallel to the faces of an octahedron, dodecahedron, or rhombohedron. -- Prismatic cleavage, cleavage parallel to a vertical prism.


© Webster 1913.

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