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Do the Rich and the Poor Have Different Conceptions of Democracy? Socioeconomic Status, Inequality, and the Political Status Quo

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In this study, we investigate how socioeconomic status is related to people's commitment to liberal democracy. Based on sociological and psychological theories of social conflict and dominance, we argue that those who enjoy a more privileged position in the social hierarchy tend to develop stronger preferences for the existing social and political order. Conversely, people in underprivileged positions tend to be less supportive of that order. Hence, we expect the relationship between socioeconomic status and commitment to liberal democracy to be context-specific: positive in liberal democracies but negative in autocracies. Furthermore, we argue that income inequality amplifies these dynamics, widening the gap between low and high status individuals. We test our hypotheses using the fifth wave of the World Value Surveys.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2020

This article was made available online on September 17, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Do the Rich and the Poor Have Different Conceptions of Democracy? Socioeconomic Status, Inequality, and the Political Status Quo".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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