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Journal Article

The Social Origins of Authoritarianism

Frederick Solt
Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 65, No. 4 (DECEMBER 2012), pp. 703-713
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the University of Utah
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41759308
Page Count: 11
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The Social Origins of Authoritarianism
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Abstract

Despite much attention to the problematic consequences of authoritarianism, little research focuses on the causes of such unquestioning respect for "proper" authority. Elaborating on the social learning approach to authoritarianism, this article argues that economic inequality within countries shapes individuals' feelings toward authority. As differences in condition increase, so does the relative power of the wealthy. As a result, regardless of their incomes, individuals' experiences are more likely to lead them to view hierarchical relations as natural and, in turn, to hold greater respect for authority. Multilevel models of authoritarianism in countries around the world over three decades support this relative power theory.

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