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Social class and political attitudes. A study of the political effect of experiences in working life

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
2 600 000
Project period
2008 - 2011
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Short description

Many studies have shown that people's class affiliation is important for their political views. Previous research on the relationship between class and political attitudes has pointed to such underlying causes as the socializing effect of the class background, the class composition of the household, and the importance of class cultures and political movements for class interests. Recent research has also shown the importance of organized interests and so-called political articulation for the relationship between class and political attitudes. However, there is a strong link between individuals' class position and their work and tasks, and that
problems that this project intends to investigate are the types of experiences in working life that have political significance for gainfully employed individuals.

The project examines the ways in which variations in income, career opportunities, job security and freedom in the work situation are important for people's political perceptions. It has previously been shown that e.g. income differences and career opportunities are related to political attitudes, but less is known about the effects of job security and freedom in the work situation. On the other hand, it may be that the individual's experiences at work have a limited significance for his or her political perceptions, and that these perceptions are instead mainly influenced by strategic decisions in the household or by the class background in which the individual has grown up. The project takes into account a number of possible explanations for people's political attitudes. We will focus on three mechanisms that can be mediating links between people's class positions and their political views; rational choices, identity and socialization processes and the degree of self-government. The first mechanism is about the individual calculating rationally about the situation he is in and following his self-interest. The second is instead about group processes that can arise in working life and that can have political significance. The third emphasizes the importance of the degree of self-government in the work of the political attitudes that people tend to develop. The political attitudes that are focused on are primarily those that previous research has shown have a clear connection with class position. It is about e.g. on attitudes to tax and welfare policy, and on attitudes to the EU. More ideological issues, which have to do with left and right views, are also studied. Another question area revolves around the fear of strangers. In addition, people's general interest in politics is studied. The study is based on a survey aimed at individuals in the Swedish workforce.