Political Ideology and Class Formation: A Study of the Middle Class

By Carolyn Howe | Go to book overview

7
Race and Gender in Class Analysis: Political Coalitions of the Middle Class

A shifting middle class has in recent years altered the class structure, changed the nature of political coalitions, and added new dimensions to the political--ideological forces in contemporary society. As we have seen, recent class analysis has brought greater specificity to the nature of stratification within capitalist countries and has deepened our understanding of class differences in political attitudes and behavior. Class position and political ideology however, cannot be separated from the context of capitalist societies, which are also fundamentally shaped by gender and racialethnic inequalities. Much of the literature on stratification ignores these differences, thus overlooking an important dimension of class formation and an important dimension of subjectivity that affects the possibilities for class alliances.

This chapter takes a step in the direction of correcting this omission. Because racial questions were not asked in the Swedish sample, only the United States data are examined here. As the analysis of class differences has shown, however, the way in which class affects political ideology is historically and nationally specific. Cross-national research shows that the configuration of political--ideological patterns among different class categories is different in Sweden than in the United States ( Howe, 1987; Wright, Howe, Cho, 1989). This suggests the importance of making explicit the historical and national limitations of generalizations

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