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Opposition to the Living Wage: Discourse, Rhetoric, and American Exceptionalism

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Abstract

In this analysis my aim is to further a line of inquiry into the cultural logics surrounding the ways that people conceptualize work, worth, and the compensation of labor. By analyzing public attitudes towards wage floor policies such as the living wage, ethnographers can contribute to the broader effort at dismantling the naturalized cultural logic of neoliberalism regarding progressive economic policies, specifically living wages. I conclude that the discursive constitution of living wages by opponents reflects broader and more deeply held ideological assertions about American society and the marketplace, and reinforcing a notion of American exceptionalism.

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