The Fifth Cleavage: Genealogy of the Populist Ideology proposes an in-depth analysis of populism, as one of the central phenomena in the contemporary public and political debate. In particular, this study aims to investigate the causes of the emergence of populism and its possible effects on the political system and on the democratic institutions. The central thesis of the book is that populism is originated by a cleavage between two opposite groups – the people and the elite – which appeared for the first time soon after the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries. This cleavage is not constantly active; but it tends to reactivate itself only under certain circumstances, when certain critical junctures occur, thus giving rise to different “waves” of populism. When the “populist cleavage” is active, the other lines of division and conflict (of class, of religion, etc.) lose their relevance. What are the features of this cleavage? What kind of relationship does it have with the well-known traditional cleavages (capital-labor, state-church, urban-rural, center-periphery)? What are the characteristics of the recent “wave” of populism? And what are its effects on the functioning of democracy? These are the main questions to which this book is devoted.
Giovanni Barbieri is assistant professor of political sociology in the department of political sciences at the Univerisy of Perugia.
Chapter1: Populism: A Thin-Centred Ideology with Strong Cultural Roots
Chapter 2: The Explanations of the Phenomenon: Populism, Democracy, and the Rise of Populist Parties
Chapter 3: The Fifth Cleavage
Chapter 4: The Dark Side of Populism: From Antiliberal Configuration to Populist Plutocracy
“Offering a new theory of a populist cleavage, Barbieri examines populism across time to identify its remarkable consistency, while compelling us to think more carefully about the forms of democracy that populism generates. The Fifth Cleavage is an impressive use of historical cases with an exhaustive review of the literature."
“The Fifth Cleavage is an important contribution to the study of populism. Barbieri manages to take in a huge sweep of populism, through history and across the world. The Fifth Cleavage positively fizzes with ideas that will engage readers and scholars of populism alike."
“Giovanni Barbieri has succeeded in producing a book that is both comprehensive and innovative. The book provides a thorough yet original analysis of the literature on populism, while also providing valuable new insights. The discussion regarding populism as a cleavage and populism and democracy are in particular relevant for current debates concerning both the causes and the consequences of populism."