Social Cleavages and Political Change: Voter Alignments and U.S. Party Coalitions

By Jeff Manza; Clem Brooks | Go to book overview

labor-force participation is entered in the model, but shrinks to a non- significant 1.149[s.e. = 2.27] when the interaction between gender and labor-force participation (7.559[s.e. = 2.85]) is added. The roughly 6∘ difference in men and women's feelings about the women's movement in 1992 is thus a product of the differences among working women versus men/non-working women. We thus infer that while feminist consciousness led to gender differences in 1992, it is the distinctive experiences of working women that ultimately explain this relationship in that election.


CONCLUSION

There have been many significant changes in the status of women in American society since World War II. Not surprisingly, these changes have important repercussions for political behavior. Our analysis of the origins and development of the gender gap provide evidence that it can be traced to the steady increase in the proportion of women in the paid labor force. The diagram presented in Figure 5.2 summarizes a simplified version the causal logic of the argument. The steadily increasing proportion of women in the workplace--an arena where women have been and continue to be disadvantaged relative to men--has resulted in a cumulative, net shift among women towards support for Democratic presidential candidates. The labor force/vote choice relationship among women is, however, mediated by their views of social provision and, more recently, by views of the women's movement. More women are dependent on an activist public sector for access to jobs, public social provision for help with childcare and other parental responsibilities, and (especially as actual or potential single mothers with lower paid employment prospects) income maintenance programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. As the party that has been more receptive

FIG. 5.2. Labor-force participation as a source of political attitudes and behavior

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