The sources of political orientations in post-industrial society: social class and education revisited

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Abstract

This paper studies the impact of social class and education on political orientation. We distinguish the ‘old’ middle class from a new class of social/cultural specialists. However, the difference in their political orientation may especially be related to the level and field of education; the new middle class is more highly educated and often in fields of study that extensively address social competencies, characteristics independently affecting political outcomes. Analyses on Dutch data showed that education is more important in the prediction of ‘cultural’ liberal issues than social class. Economically-oriented issues are more strongly affected by social class. This means that interests of the new middle class are served by liberal standpoints relating to a strong government and income redistribution policies, but not relating to cultural issues.

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