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Curr Opin Psychol. 2017 Dec;18:73-78. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.08.020. Epub 2017 Aug 12.

Working class conservatism: a system justification perspective.

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Department of Psychology, New York University, Meyer Building, 6 Washington Place, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003, USA. Electronic address:


Working class conservatism is a perennial issue in social science, but researchers have struggled to provide an adequate characterization. In social psychology, the question has too often been framed in 'either/or' terms of whether the disadvantaged are more or less likely to support the status quo than the advantaged. This is a crude rendering of the issue obscuring the fact that even if most working class voters are not conservative, millions are-and conservatives could not win elections without their support. System justification theory highlights epistemic, existential, and relational needs to reduce uncertainty, threat, and social discord that are shared by everyone-and that promote conservative attitudes. I summarize qualitative and quantitative evidence of system justification among the disadvantaged and consider prospects for more constructive political activity.

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