A new book by sociologist Frank Furedi analyses what he calls the 'culture wars' that have accompanied the perceived rise of populism in Europe.
Professor Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, argues that 'influential anti-populist elites' have distorted the true meaning of populism by attributing to it 'a wide range of negative qualities'.
These include the claim that people who support populist causes are 'irrational, uneducated, likely to be Eurosceptic and nationalist', he says.
In the book, entitled 'Populism and the European Culture Wars' (Routledge, 14 August), Professor Furedi contends that the phenomenon of anti-populism has become a powerful narrative that 'dominates the media landscapes' in Western societies.
He suggests that anti-populism has constructed a 'culturally warped' view of populism that 'casts a movement questioning the elite cultural consensus in a negative light'.
Using the example of Hungary as a case study, Professor Furedi argues that it is a 'fundamental clash of values' that has led to a 'polarization of perceptions of reality in the debate over populism. In this respect, the current culture wars over values resembles the religious wars that afflicted Europe in the early modern era,' he writes.
Although the book's focus is on the Hungarian question, Professor Furedi suggests that this helps 'illuminate' the underlying societal patterns that are shaping the conflict of values throughout the EU.
Contrasting attitudes towards national sovereignty, popular sovereignty and the questions of tradition and the past 'are the main drivers of the culture wars in Europe', he argues.
For interview requests, contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.
Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879
News releases can also be found at http://www.
Notes to editor
Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked: 23rd in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.
In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities.
Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (http://www.
The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals. In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.