Socially Structured Inequality and Ideological Polarization in Post-Communist Societies
Posted: 26 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 23, 2009
Post-communism has brought increasing inequalities and diverging access to market-based opportunities. This can be expected to generate polarization in attitudes towards increasing marketization in the region, with socio-economic divisions emerging most clearly in the more advanced economies where the benefits and costs of marketization will have had most impact. Examining national surveys carried out in 13 countries over a 14 year period we find evidence of a growing middle class versus working class cleavage, with farm workers clumping with manual workers on the pro-redistributive left and the managerial/professional classes grouping with entrepreneurs on the pro-market right. Even more pronounced is a growing age cleavage, with older people increasingly opposing marketization. There is also evidence that polarization has been most pronounced in those societies that have adopted market economies most aggressively, with attendant outcomes such as higher rates of unemployment and inequality. In post-communist societies, as elsewhere, capitalist economic relations appear to have engendered matching cleavage structures.
Keywords: social inequality, public opinion, post-communist politics, political cleavages
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