Social class and social identity
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.
Volume (Year): 64 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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