Working class conservatism is a perennial issue in social science, but researchers have struggled to provide an adequate characterization. In social psychology, the question has too often been framed in ‘either/or’ terms of whether the disadvantaged are more or less likely to support the status quo than the advantaged. This is a crude rendering of the issue obscuring the fact that even if most working class voters are not conservative, millions are — and conservatives could not win elections without their support. System justification theory highlights epistemic, existential, and relational needs to reduce uncertainty, threat, and social discord that are shared by everyone — and that promote conservative attitudes. I summarize qualitative and quantitative evidence of system justification among the disadvantaged and consider prospects for more constructive political activity.
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