Political Alignment and the American Middle Class, 1974-1994

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The middle class is central to American political life, yet the political alignment of this occupationally diverse class is unclear. This paper proposes an ideal-typical scheme of alignment structures for the middle class that incorporates several major theories of middle-class politics. Using data from the General Social Surveys and employing Multiple Correspondence Analysis, this framework is used as the basis for comparing the observed pattern of political alignments among middle-class occupations in two recent periods, 1974-1978 and 1989-1994. In the earlier period, the middle class was clearly segmented into liberal, conservative, and centrist groups in a way that accorded with established sociological descriptions. By the second period, this clear segmentation had largely broken down. Much of this breakdown occurred on the political right. The paper concludes with a discussion of this finding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-666
Number of pages28
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998

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  • Middle class
  • Political alignment
  • Social class


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