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The Economic OtherInequality in the American Political Imagination$
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Meghan Condon and Amber Wichowsky

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226691732

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226691909.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

How Looking Up Keeps Us Down

How Looking Up Keeps Us Down

Chapter:
(p.169) Chapter 10 How Looking Up Keeps Us Down
Source:
The Economic Other
Author(s):

Meghan Condon

Amber Wichowsky

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226691909.003.0010

Even when people do make social comparisons with the wealthy elite and increase their support for programs that redistribute wealth, the potential for political action faces an additional hurdle. In this chapter, the authors show how upward comparison causes Americans to pull back from democratic life. Results from a nationally representative sample demonstrate that Americans’ political efficacy is depressed when they make upward comparisons and become more socially aware of their disadvantaged socioeconomic status. The authors also find suggestive evidence that members of marginalized groups are most likely to react to upward social comparison with feelings of lost political power and voice. Thus, the very experience that increases support for redistribution appears to decrease the likelihood that those who stand to benefit will enter the political fray and make those demands heard.

Keywords:   political efficacy, inequality, social comparison, upward comparison, democratic life, socioeconomic status, redistribution, wealthy, elite, power

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