The New Middle Class

Does social class still matter voting behaviour today?

For the past century, society has seen tremendous change to the structure of class systems. The internal struggle of the working class and the upper class, had been well documented in the context of Karl Marx’s class theory. The bourgeoisie and the proletariat; where the owner and worker, the former owns a large portion of wealth and the latter work for a mere potion of wealth. Capital in a broad sense of the word, defines the class structure of these two entities, which separates their preferences of voting behaviours in elections. However, capital alone is not adequate to represent the salient issues of these classes that matter to them most.

Since the start of the universal suffrage in the 1920s, people were able to vote for their desired parties of which represented their ideologies. The working class were inclined to vote for the Far left, and the upper class were supportive of the Far right. The extreme of this proximity, the dichotomy of these two classes were categorised in terms of their economic status, which was based firmly on Marx’s attenuation of the class. The nuances of this categorisation were further elaborated in the cleavage model. The social classes were resented to party attachments, of which these parties represented their ideologies, to clearly express themselves as part of the party the ideology they could identify.

The dichotomy of Marx’s class conflicts was best portrayed in the cleavage model. The industrialisation revolution made a huge impact on the culmination of extreme dichotomy. Workers sided with social democratic parties, while the upper class associated with conservative or liberal parties. The extremity of both classes was reinforced in times of countless revolution, which prolonged the contemplation of unchangeable ideologies, when salient issues were challenged to a point where social preferences had become “sticky”.

As we approach the 1960s, modernisation had transcended the social class of the bourgeoisie and proletariat through industrialisation as one of the casual factors. Industrialisation caused mass prosperity; entailed the creation of a middle class, which aligned to both the poor and rich. The fragmentation of the society post industrialisation created a new line of liberal professionals. The liberal capacity of the middle class consists of doctors, lawyers and Journalists. However, with further fragmentation into several internal factions of these two extremities, the framework seemed undesirable to be applied into modern societies.

The middle class was the foci for which preference formation of ideal political stances were further trickled down into yet more complex and nuance of a notion. There were two factions caused by sectorial fragmentation; the public and private sectors. The public and the private had conflicting interests in producing and consuming economic goods. The public sector employees wanted their salaries to increase while the private sector employees wanted less taxation on their income. The fragmentation of society, as well as post industrialisation, changed the social structure, so much so that the influence of economic factors had declined. Also, the embourgeoisment of society had reconstructed the social structure in the pretext of not just economic factors. Withdrawn are the obsolete mould of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, where both classifications are inapplicable to most modern societies. The emergence of the middle class was due to the upward mobility via professionalism and improved education through mass prosperity.  However, the effect is infinite. A certain threshold had been breached gap of difference in wealth.

This notion developed a sense of satisfaction which constitutes post-materialism; in forward thinking individuals where they concoct liberal values like gender equality and lifestyle choices, where voting preferences are bounded, not by economic factors.

The embourgeoisment of society, most notably the emergence of a new social class, has altered the voting behaviour of the masses. We are not effectively bounded by the categorisation of Marx capital class system in choosing our political preferences. Substantive outcomes suggest that the categorisation of social classes was championed by class de-alignment. The decline in people voting in accordance to their social classes has changed the traditional voting behaviour of the electorates. The increase in education and mass prosperity of societies, and also the impending trends of liberalism from numerous independent mass media that epitomises post-materialism. Their salient issues have been displaced, in weighting which are of upmost importance. These factors have influenced the masses’ preferences for party alignment, where salient issues are best addressed and tackled by these parties.

Voting is not just a form of liberal expression, but is more so a strategic one. The categorisation of the social class does not adequately complement one’s voting behaviour, but rather carefully augmented and cognitive rationalization constitutes one’s voting behaviour. A massive flaw, in the context of Donald Trump, which proves that social class still, is considered a ripple effect in determining the rhetoric.


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