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Stew of Discontent: Middle Class Americans' Economic Populism

Опубликовано на портале: 19-05-2004
Jonathan H. Martin
Научный руководитель: Gordon Fellman
Организация: Brandes University
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Социология, Экономическая социология, Экономическая социология: Социально-экономическая дифференциация. Бедность, Социальная стратификация

This dissertation generates possible explanations for conflicting claims in the literature on the economic populist sentiment (or incipient class consciousness) of the contemporary American middle class. It asserts that social and political analysts have depicted the middle class as either: (1)basically accepting the socioeconomic status quo, (2)substantially discontent with growing class inequality and increasingly ready to resist it, or (3)containing a simple conglomeration of both inclinations. The study analyzes in-depth interviews with eighteen ordinary middle class individuals from central Connecticut. It finds that economic populist sentiment can be highly complex—varied and subtle in its form, potency, importance, origin and evolution. It suggests that partial or distorted discernment of such complexity well could have resulted in all three competing images of the middle class. It proposes that particular methodological mistakes and political preconceptions could have limited or skewed analysts' perceptions. It posits that deeper causes of perceptual distortion may include methodological ignorance and dogmatism; excessive political idealism, cynicism and partisanship; historical determinism and ambiguity; and intellectuals' cultural biases. The study concludes by advocating greater awareness of these pitfalls and the adoption of specific countervailing intellectual practices. It describes how such adjustments could not only improve the analysis of class consciousness but also aid the politics of class equalization.

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Karl O'Lessker
American Journal of Sociology. 1969.  Vol. 74. No. 1. P. 63-69. 
Alejandro Portes
American Journal of Sociology. 1971.  Vol. 77. No. 2. P. 228-244. 
Bertell Ollman
American Journal of Sociology. 2002.  Vol. 73. No. 5. P. 573-580. 
Lane Kenworthy
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