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

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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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 12:58:04 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 2:38:31 PM




Thomas Kurer, Bruno Palier. Shrinking and shouting: the political revolt of the declining middle in times of employment polarization. Research & Politics, 2019, 6 (1), pp.1-6. ⟨10.1177/2053168019831164⟩. ⟨hal-02177765⟩



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