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Ideological Beliefs on the Distribution of Power in the United States

William H. Form and Joan Rytina
American Sociological Review
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Feb., 1969), pp. 19-31
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2092784
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Ideological Beliefs on the Distribution of Power in the United States
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Abstract

Although dominant ideologies represent a vindication of societal power arrangements, we hypothesized that specific belief systems vary by social strata. Annual family income, a major reward, was used as the chief indicator of stratal position. In a community study, we found that although the pluralistic model of power was selected most frequently as an accurate description of the way the system works, it was embraced most strongly by rich and middle-income strata. The poor and Negroes favored elitist and economic models of power more than other strata. When confronted with an interest-group model of power in Congress, all strata selected "big business and the rich" as the most powerful groups. Yet the higher the income and education of the respondents, the less they believed that all groups should have equal political power. The poor and Negroes gave most normative support to political pluralism. These findings cast doubt on current theory concerning political authoritarianism of the poor and suggest that all strata differentially select existential and normative beliefs concerning the distribution of societal power. Stratal differences in such beliefs may play an important role in class political movements.

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