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Class Consciousness and Political Change: Voting and Political Attitudes in the British Working Class, 1964 to 1970

David Weakliem
American Sociological Review
Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jun., 1993), pp. 382-397
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095907
Page Count: 16
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Class Consciousness and Political Change: Voting and Political Attitudes in the British Working Class, 1964 to 1970
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Abstract

Most research suggests that changes in political preferences and public opinion are similar for all social groups. I investigate the possibility that prior views of the world, or "ideology," affect responses to new information, and hence changes in opinion. I focus on one type of ideology, levels of class consciousness, using data from opinion surveys of British manual workers in the election years of 1964, 1966, and 1970. Results from a latent class model indicate that changes in political and economic opinions vary with degree of class consciousness. Workers who identified with the working class but held negative attitudes toward unions became considerably more pessimistic about economic conditions and the policies of the Labour Party. This group's behavior may represent either instrumentalism or a perceived conflict between the interests of the working class and the interests of society as a whole. These results cast doubt on conventional views of the relationship between workers' economic interests and support for parties of the left.

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