British Journal of Political Science



Research Article

The Effects of Social Class Identification on Participatory Orientations Towards Government


KATHERINE CRAMER  WALSH  a1, M. KENT  JENNINGS  a2 and LAURA  STOKER  a3
a1 Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
a2 Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
a3 Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Abstract

This article calls into question the common claim that class identity does not matter for American political behaviour. Using panel-study data spanning thirty-two years and two generations, we investigate the effects of social-class identity on five participatory orientations towards government. As expected, working-class identifiers in both generations consistently display lower levels of involvement in politics than do middle-class identifiers. Significantly, however, these differences typically persist when the analysis controls for objective indicators of class and are always enhanced among those who retain the same class identity over time. Rather than sustaining a conclusion that class identification has little relevance for Americans, the results suggest that class may be particularly important in the present political context.