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Social class and social identity

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  • David George
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    Abstract

    Over the last 25 years, the relative economic situation of women, African-Americans, and other groups facing economic discrimination has improved but, paradoxically, the relative economic situation of the population's lower half has worsened. These opposite trends are surprising since the very groups whose overall situation has improved remain disproportionately represented in the bottom half. This paper presents several likely explanations of the trends. First, there has been a historically unique distancing of the upper economic half from the lower economic half that has lessened the former's interest in aiding the latter. Second, the increasing belief in free markets that has characterized the period is argued to be consistent with the removal of prejudices based on race, gender, and ethnicity while at the same time eroding institutions that relieve class income differences. Third, the fact that one can “exit” from a social class, but must raise one's voice to improve the treatment of one's gender or race is argued to have weakened the overall status of the lower half, while strengthening the overall status of women and African-Americans. And fourth, certain psychological biases are argued to have caused weakened support for collective efforts to improve the condition of the lower half.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Social Economy.

    Volume (Year): 64 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 429-445

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:64:y:2006:i:4:p:429-445

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    Keywords: gender; race; social class; social identity;

    References

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    1. Dolfsma, W.A. & Finch, J. & McMaster, R., 2004. "Market and Society: How do they relate, and contribute to welfare?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2004-105-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    2. William Darity, 2003. "Will the Poor Always be with Us?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 61(4), pages 471-477.
    3. Hirschman, Albert O, 1982. "Rival Interpretations of Market Society: Civilizing, Destructive, or Feeble?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 1463-84, December.
    4. Michael Lewis & Steven Pressman & Karl Widerquist, 2005. "The basic income guarantee and social economics," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(4), pages 587-593.
    5. Almaz Zelleke, 2005. "Basic income in the United States: Redefining citizenship in the liberal state," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(4), pages 633-648.
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    Cited by:
    1. David George, 2011. "A Convoluted Path," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 265-272, July.

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