Working Class Conservatism: A System Justification Perspective

Curr Opin Psychol. 2017 Dec;18:73-78. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.08.020. Epub 2017 Aug 12.


Working class conservatism is a perennial issue in social science, but researchers have struggled to provide an adequate characterization. In social psychology, the question has too often been framed in 'either/or' terms of whether the disadvantaged are more or less likely to support the status quo than the advantaged. This is a crude rendering of the issue obscuring the fact that even if most working class voters are not conservative, millions are-and conservatives could not win elections without their support. System justification theory highlights epistemic, existential, and relational needs to reduce uncertainty, threat, and social discord that are shared by everyone-and that promote conservative attitudes. I summarize qualitative and quantitative evidence of system justification among the disadvantaged and consider prospects for more constructive political activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Humans
  • Politics*
  • Social Class*