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Shrinking and shouting: the political revolt of the declining middle in times of employment polarization


Kurer, Thomas; Palier, Bruno (2019). Shrinking and shouting: the political revolt of the declining middle in times of employment polarization. Research and Politics, 6(1):205316801983116.

Abstract

Automation, digitalization and smart software fundamentally reshape the employment structure of post-industrial societies. The share of routine jobs is constantly shrinking while non-routine jobs at both ends of the skill distribution tend to grow. We contend that the existing political science literature has not sufficiently connected the distributive implications of technological change with contemporary political disruptions. The fact that disadvantages are strongly concentrated among blue- and white-collar routine workers in the lower middle class is of crucial importance. Routine workers are a large and electorally relevant group with all the necessary means for political participation. Increasingly bleak prospects in the labor markets of tomorrow create a demand for social, cultural, and economic protectionism. Socially conservative parties in general and right-wing populist parties in particular have recognized the electoral potential of disaffected routine workers and skillfully address and acknowledge their anxieties. We conclude that a lower middle class no longer protected from the vagaries of economic modernization is a potential electoral game changer.

Abstract

Automation, digitalization and smart software fundamentally reshape the employment structure of post-industrial societies. The share of routine jobs is constantly shrinking while non-routine jobs at both ends of the skill distribution tend to grow. We contend that the existing political science literature has not sufficiently connected the distributive implications of technological change with contemporary political disruptions. The fact that disadvantages are strongly concentrated among blue- and white-collar routine workers in the lower middle class is of crucial importance. Routine workers are a large and electorally relevant group with all the necessary means for political participation. Increasingly bleak prospects in the labor markets of tomorrow create a demand for social, cultural, and economic protectionism. Socially conservative parties in general and right-wing populist parties in particular have recognized the electoral potential of disaffected routine workers and skillfully address and acknowledge their anxieties. We conclude that a lower middle class no longer protected from the vagaries of economic modernization is a potential electoral game changer.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Public Administration
Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:political science and international relations, public administration, sociology and political science technological change, employment polarization, middle class, routine work, radical right, populism, digitalization
Language:English
Date:January 2019
Deposited On:28 Oct 2021 09:25
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 02:40
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:2053-1680
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/2053168019831164
Project Information:
  • : FunderSchweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderLIEPP, Sciences Po
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)