Middle class identification: the influence of interclass context on middle class evaluations of morality and success

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2008-01-01
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Archer, Patrick
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Wendy J. Harrod
Sharon R. Bird
Susan D. Stewart
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Abstract

This study explored the influence of interclass context on how people identify themselves as middle class. Data were collected from 676 employees of Iowa State University who categorized themselves as being in the middle class. Using an online survey design, all participants were randomly selected into an experimental condition in which they were asked to compare their own social class (i.e., the middle class) with either the working class or the upper class. In agreement with social identity theory, participants evaluated members of the upper class to be more successful, but less moral, than members of the middle class. On the other hand, while members of the working class were seen as less successful than members of the middle class, they were rated higher on morality. Results also show that participants perceived the relations between the middle class and the working class to be more permeable and less legitimate than the relations between the middle class and the upper class. Thus, results indicate that the middle class participants found themselves to be more similar to, and less distinct from, the working class in comparison to the upper class.

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Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2008