Keywords: Italy, South Africa, Canada, voting research, social cleavages.
Since the early 1990s traditional approaches to voting behaviour in Italy centred on the territorial political subculture concept have been increasingly challenged by theories inspired by the "electoral market" analogy. The article analyses such turn in the light of the history of election studies after 1945 and compares it to similar developments in voting research in South Africa and Canada in the postwar years. Group- and cleavage-based theories of voting are found to have emerged to adjust mainstream theoretical models originally based on the experience of the U.S, Britain and France to the supposedly "unique" features displayed by each of the three systems. Following recent developments in Canadian electoral research, the case is made for some combination between the old sociological paradigm and the new economic and psychological approaches in order to make sense of current voting patterns in the three systems, as well as for further systematic comparison between "peripheral" traditions in Western politics and political research.