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Journal Article

Are Self-Proclaimed Conservatives Really Conservative? Trends in Attitudes and Self-Identification among the Young

Alan S. Miller
Social Forces
Vol. 71, No. 1 (Sep., 1992), pp. 195-210
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2579973
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2579973
Page Count: 16
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Are Self-Proclaimed Conservatives Really Conservative? Trends in Attitudes and Self-Identification among the Young
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Abstract

This article examines the relationship between shifts in the social desirability of a label and the willingness of young people to apply the label to themselves. Using the General Social Survey and National Election Study, I show that from 1974 to 1986 the percentage of young people willing to apply a conservative label to themselves increased, holding constant attitudes typically indicative of conservatism. This suggests that perceived increases in conservatism reflect not only a shift in attitudes but also a change in the social desirability of a conservative label. The results highlight the limitations of labeling theory, which tends to ignore the incentive side of self-labeling.

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