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Narratives of backlash? Perceptions of changing status hierarchies in open-ended survey responses


Breyer, Magdalena; Palmtag, Tabea; Zollinger, Delia (2023). Narratives of backlash? Perceptions of changing status hierarchies in open-ended survey responses. URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series 15, University of Zurich.

Abstract

It is widely accepted in political science – and remarkably established in public discourse – that status anxieties fuel a far right backlash against progressive politics. This narrative suggests that right-wing conservatives perceive the status of women, racial, or sexual minorities as threatening. Using open-ended survey questions fielded in Germany, we show that women and minorities do figure in people’s perceptions of status hierarchies, but in very specific ways: First, overall, people still perceive status as largely socioeconomically determined. Second, sociocultural groups figure in perceptions of who is gaining/losing status, less so in perceptions of the top/bottom of society. Third, more than authoritarian voters, it is social progressives who perceive women and minorities as “winners”. While on race/ethnicity, we find evidence for a backlash, on gender and sexuality we find more evidence for a progressive momentum. This matters for progressive politics today and for how we empirically study status concerns.

Abstract

It is widely accepted in political science – and remarkably established in public discourse – that status anxieties fuel a far right backlash against progressive politics. This narrative suggests that right-wing conservatives perceive the status of women, racial, or sexual minorities as threatening. Using open-ended survey questions fielded in Germany, we show that women and minorities do figure in people’s perceptions of status hierarchies, but in very specific ways: First, overall, people still perceive status as largely socioeconomically determined. Second, sociocultural groups figure in perceptions of who is gaining/losing status, less so in perceptions of the top/bottom of society. Third, more than authoritarian voters, it is social progressives who perceive women and minorities as “winners”. While on race/ethnicity, we find evidence for a backlash, on gender and sexuality we find more evidence for a progressive momentum. This matters for progressive politics today and for how we empirically study status concerns.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Working Paper Series > URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series
08 Research Priority Programs > Equality of Opportunity
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:February 2023
Deposited On:05 Jan 2024 14:02
Last Modified:06 Mar 2024 14:40
Series Name:URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series
Number of Pages:36
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://www.urpp-equality.uzh.ch/dam/jcr:58d66c30-7b8b-4edf-8e74-32a33e863c02/15_BreyerPalmtagZollinger_paper+appendix.pdf
Related URLs:https://www.urpp-equality.uzh.ch/en/Discussion-Paper-Series.html
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:24221
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English