Social Class and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections

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Social Class and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections

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Social Class and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections

  1. 1. Social Class and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election
  2. 2. In everyday use, and even among sociologists, the word “class” is used non-sociologically, meaning “a kind of category:” “ A set, collection, group or configuration containing members regarded as having certain attributes or traits in common: a kind of category” – American Heritage Dictionary 4 th ed. (2000). What is Social Class?
  3. 3. What is Social Class? T he definition of class seems to vary by researcher groups (marxists, neo-marxists, weberians, neo-weberians, etc.). M easurement/operationalization of class in empirical research also varies by research group .
  4. 4. What is Social Class? The results of battles over definition and measurement of social class are: -- a big, long literature on class -- fierce disagreement on how to interpret the literature -- periodic revivals of class analysis -- emergence of class definition cults populated with sociologists who are convinced that their definition is the “right” one -- c onfusion for students who try to synthesize the literature.
  5. 5. What is Social Class? Objective vs. Subjective Applying a criteria of inclusion to an individual in order to place them in a class category, regardless of whether the individual thinks they belong in that class category The individual places himself/herself in a class category, regardless of whether the researcher thinks they belong in that class category. Who is in what class category?
  6. 6. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. Sociologists engaging in modern class analysis identify economic class position as an individual’s position in the labor force. Social class is largely based on the characteristics of their occupation: the skill level required for the job, the degree to which they are supervised by others, and who and how many workers they supervise. Managers, employers, unskilled manual workers, and so on.
  7. 7. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. White collar Upper non-manual Skill Level Upper to upper middle class Blue collar Upper manual Upper middle to middle class White collar Lower nonmanual Middle to working class Blue collar Lower manual Working class
  8. 8. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. Politicians define social classes primarily in terms of income. Classes are divided within an income distribution. Take this hypothetical example: Lower Class Middle Class Upper Middle to Upper Class 0 – 10,000 10,001 – 25,000 25,001 – 45,000 45,001 – 75,000 75,001 – 90,000 90,001 – 150,000+
  9. 9. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. They then attach occupations to it that earn, roughly, that amount of income: Lower Class Middle Class Upper Middle to Upper Class Waiter/waitress, temporary worker Clerical worker, small employer Stock broker, manager of large firm 0 – 10,000 10,001 – 25,000 25,001 – 45,000 45,001 – 75,000 75,001 – 90,000 90,001 – 150,000+
  10. 10. What is Social Class? Americans, especially in the American media, do not talk about class distinctions. The only class that is talked about with some frequency is „the middle class.” Americans believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of results. Therefore, class doesn’t matter. All that matters is whether everyone (who „works hard” and „plays by the rules”) has an equal chance for social mobility. As long as everyone has an equal chance, why bother talking about class?
  11. 11. Source: Manza, J. Hout, M. & C. Brooks (1995). Class voting in capitalist democracies since World war II: dealignment, realignment, or trendless fluctuation? Annual Review of Sociology Class Category Vote Tendency Professionals Democrat Managers, administrators, and nonretail sales workers Republican Owners and proprietors Republican Nonmanagerial white collar workers Democrat Skilled workers and foremen Volatile Semi-skilled and unskilled blue collar workers Volatile, towards Republican in close elections
  12. 12. Vote by Income Group in 2004 U.S. Presidential Election http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html   BUSH KERRY TOTAL 2004 2004   Under $15,000 (8%) 36% 63%   $15-30,000 (15%) 42% 57%   $30-50,000 (22%) 49% 50%   $50-75,000 (23%) 56% 43%   $75-100,000 (14%) 55% 45%   $100-150,000 (11%) 57% 42%   $150-200,000 (4%) 58% 42%   $200,000 or More (3%) 63% 35%
  13. 13. BUSH KERRY „ Pocketbook Voting” in 2004 U.S. Presidential Election http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html FAMILY'S FINANCIAL SITUATION     TOTAL 2004 2004   Better (32%) 80% 19%   Worse (28%) 20% 79%   Same (39%) 49% 50%
  14. 14. BUSH KERRY http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html Vote by Union Membership in 2004 U.S. Presidential Election ARE YOU A UNION MEMBER?     TOTAL   Yes (14%) 38% 61%   No (86%) 54% 45%
  15. 15. "Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism. And a lot of Americans are thinking along those same lines. In the best case, 'spreading the wealth around' is a familiar idea from the American left. And that kind of class warfare sure doesn't sound like a 'new kind of politics ...’ At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives ... We should demand equal candor from Senator Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway." -- Senator John McCain (AZ), Republican Presidential Nominee 2008, in weekly radio address October 2008 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/19/mccain-decries-obamas-socialism/

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