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Keywords:

  • Class position;
  • work-related factors;
  • authoritarian/libertarian orientations;
  • left/right orientations;
  • survey data;
  • Sweden

Abstract

Studies of the relationship between class position and political outlooks still only have a limited understanding of the class-related mechanisms that matter for ideological orientations. This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the mechanisms that link class position and left/right and authoritarian/libertarian orientations. Besides main factors such as income, career prospects, job security, education, class origin and class identification, the significance of work-related factors such as work autonomy, working in a team, a physically demanding job and a mentally demanding job is studied. The findings are based on a survey specifically designed for this purpose and collected in Sweden in 2008/2009. A great deal of the association between class position and left/right orientations is explained by socio-economic conditions; different classes sympathize with policies that will benefit them economically. Another important factor is class identification. Work-related factors also have relevance, but the effect of class position on left/right orientations works mainly through the remuneration system. Class position is also related to authoritarian/libertarian orientations. However, this relationship is less explained by socio-economic position per se, but is rather an effect of the educational system and its allocation of the workforce into different class positions. It also turns out that work-related factors do not explain the class effects; however, a physically demanding job shows a unique effect. Overall, our findings suggest that besides factors such as class position, income, education and class identification, we need to consider work-related aspects to derive a more complete understanding of the distribution of ideological orientations in Western societies.