The declining middle: Occupational change, social status and the populist right

Using panel data from the UK, Germany and Switzerland, this study by Thomas Kurer centres on labour market trajectories, the relative changes in economic wellbeing they imply, and the subsequent political behaviour of routine workers. It finds that routine workers are disproportionately affected by technological changes such as automation.

Their political responses embody ‘socially conservative resentment’, and voters at risk of automation are likely to support the populist right wing. Kurer believes this voting behaviour is a way of securing social status in the midst of change and a perceived potential decline in status, as opposed to the result of actual economic hardship.

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Harry Pitts


Politics and perceptions of automation risk

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