The changing class structure and political behaviour: A comparative analysis of lower middle class politics in Britain and the Netherlands

Colin S. Rallings, Rudy B. Andeweg

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A rapid increase in the non-manual proportion of the labour force has characterised most Western nations over the past 50 years. This development appears to have had an especial impact on the socio-economic composition and work, market and status position of the group of white-collar workers on the lower fringes of the non-manual stratum, and many theorists have expected that it would have implications too for their political behaviour and social attitudes. There have been a variety of prognostications, but very little supportive evidence of reactions at the individual level. Our empirical analysis of white-collar workers in Britain and the Netherlands suggests, however, that they have not responded to change in the expected, rather dramatic way, but that the aggregate pattern of their partisanship and political attitudes remains "intermediate" between those of the solid middle and working-class groups. Further examination shows that such a finding should not be surprising, for white-collar workers have not been universally subject to similar experiences nor would they be likely to interpret them in exactly similar ways. Rather they constitute a group whose diverse political and social backgrounds continue importantly to influence their behaviour and outlook and to militate against any strong, "class-based" reaction to socio-economic change.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)27-47
JournalEuropean journal of political research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes


  • IR-61174

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