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Upward Social Mobility and Political Orientation: A Re-Evaluation of the Evidence

Kenneth H. Thompson
American Sociological Review
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr., 1971), pp. 223-235
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094040
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.
Upward Social Mobility and Political Orientation: A Re-Evaluation of the Evidence
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Abstract

That upward social mobility has a different effect on the political orientations of Europeans than of Americans is commonly accepted. Several scholars have concluded that upwardly mobile Europeans are less conservative than middle-class stables. The contrasting conclusion that in the United States upwardly mobile people become even more conservative than middle-class stables is based on a single study completed some years ago. Here, this relationship is re-examined by analyzing data from five nationally-representative American samples over 14 years. In these samples, the upward mobiles are consistently less likely to be conservative than the middle-class stables and more likely to be conservative than the working-class stables. However, analysis of the joint effects of sex and social mobility indicates that American upwardly mobile males are more likely to approximate the politics of the class to which they have risen than are upwardly mobile females.

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