Clientelism is a spurious concept, crossing different disciplines. Already used by classical sociology, it has been applied in a systematic way by social anthropologists since the 1920s. During the 1970s, the concept of clientelism was brought back into political science in order to explain the persistence of personal relationships in modern political systems.
The horizontal axis concerns the dynamics of clientelism, contrasting a relationship based on consensus and deference typical of the traditional systems with the contractual logic of social exchange.The vertical axis refers to the type of clientelist association: from the traditional interpersonal exchange among subjects of different social status to the exchange among corporate groups, the so-called "horizontal clientelism." Both axes reproduce the tension between backwardness and modernity. It is therefore possible to outline a developmental path beginning from the lower left quadrant and proceeding clockwise.