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Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities: A Study of Fifty Democracies, 1948-2020

Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities: A Study of Fifty Democracies, 1948-2020


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The empirical starting point for anyone who wants to understand political cleavages in the democratic world, based on a unique dataset covering fifty countries since World War II.

Who votes for whom and why? Why has growing inequality in many parts of the world not led to renewed class-based conflicts, seeming instead to have come with the emergence of new divides over identity and integration? News analysts, scholars, and citizens interested in exploring those questions inevitably lack relevant data, in particular the kinds of data that establish historical and international context. Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities provides the missing empirical background, collecting and examining a treasure trove of information on the dynamics of polarization in modern democracies.

The chapters draw on a unique set of surveys conducted between 1948 and 2020 in fifty countries on five continents, analyzing the links between voters’ political preferences and socioeconomic characteristics, such as income, education, wealth, occupation, religion, ethnicity, age, and gender. This analysis sheds new light on how political movements succeed in coalescing multiple interests and identities in contemporary democracies. It also helps us understand the conditions under which conflicts over inequality become politically salient, as well as the similarities and constraints of voters supporting ethnonationalist politicians like Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Marine Le Pen, and Donald Trump.

Bringing together cutting-edge data and historical analysis, editors Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano, and Thomas Piketty offer a vital resource for understanding the voting patterns of the present and the likely sources of future political conflict.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674248427
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 12/14/2021
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 681,641
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Amory Gethin is Research Fellow at the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics.

Clara Martínez-Toledano is Assistant Professor at Imperial College London and Wealth Distribution Coordinator at the World Inequality Lab.

Thomas Piketty is Professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Paris School of Economics and Codirector of the World Inequality Lab.

Table of Contents

Introduction A. Gethin C. Martínez-Toledano T. Piketty 1

1 Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities in Fifty Democracies, 1948-2020 A. Gethin C. Martínez-Toledano T. Piketty 7

2 Brahmin Left versus Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict in France, the United States, and the United Kingdom, 1948-2020 T. Piketty 85

3 Electoral Cleavages and Socioeconomic Inequality in Germany, 1949-2017 F. Kosse T. Piketty 136

4 Changing Party Systems, Socioeconomic Cleavages, and Nationalism in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, 1956-2017 C. Martínez-Toledano A. Sodano 150

5 Political Cleavages, Class Structures, and the Politics of Old and New Minorities in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, 1963-2019 A. Gethin 191

6 Historical Political Cleavages and Postcrisis Transformations in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, 1953-2020 L. Bauluz A. Gethin C. Martínez-Toledano M. Morgan 221

7 Party System Transformation and the Structure of Political Cleavages in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, 1967-2019 C. Durrer De La Sota A. Gethin C. Martínez-Toledano 254

8 Political Conflict, Social Inequality, and Electoral Cleavages in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, 1990-2018 A. Lindner F. Novokmet T. Piketty T. Zawisza 287

9 Caste, Class, and the Changing Political Representation of Social Inequalities in India, 1962-2019 A. Banerjee A. Gethin T. Piketty 311

10 Social Inequality and the Dynamics of Political and Ethnolinguistic Divides in Pakistan, 1970-2018 A. Gethin S. Mehmood T. Piketty 332

11 Political Cleavages and the Representation of Social Inequalities in Japan, 1953-2017 A. Gethin 353

12 Democratization and the Construction of Class Cleavages in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, 1992-2019 A. Gethin T. Jenmana 375

13 Inequality, Identity, and the Structure of Political Cleavages in South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, 1996-2016 C. Durrer De La Sota A. Gethin 405

14 Democracy and the Politicization of Inequality in Brazil, 1989-2018 A. Gethin M. Morgan 434

15 Social Inequalities, Identity, and the Structure of Political Cleavages in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, 1952-2019 D. Barrera A. Leiva C. Martínez-Toledano A. Züñiga-Cordero 458

16 Extreme Inequality, Elite Transformation, and the Changing Structure of Political Cleavages in South Africa, 1994-2019 A. Gethin 508

17 Social Inequalities and the Politicization of Ethnic Cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, 1999-2019 J. Baleyte A. Gethin Y. Govind T. Piketty 531

18 Inequality, Identity, and the Long-Run Evolution of Political Cleavages in Israel, 1949-2019 Y. Berman 568

19 Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities in Algeria, Iraq, and Turkey, 1990-2019 L. Assouad A. Gethin T. Piketty J. Uraz 587

Conclusion A. Gethin C. Martínez-Toledano T. Piketty 617

Acknowledgments 623

Contributors 625

Index 627

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