Authoritarianism, Social Structure and Economic Policy Preferences

37 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017 Last revised: 16 Apr 2018

See all articles by Jonathan Mellon

Jonathan Mellon

University of Manchester

Christopher Prosser

University of Manchester

Date Written: August 18, 2017

Abstract

While elite level and political party ideological positions broadly reflect a one dimensional structure, at the mass level ideological positions appear to be unstructured or multidimensional. In this paper we reconcile this apparent disconnect and argue that economic policy preferences among the general public arise from an interaction between universalistic (socially liberal) and particularistic (authoritarian) dispositions, and social position. The economic preferences of universalistic liberals tend to economic left-leaning regardless of social position, whereas the preferences of particularistic authoritarians reflect their standing in the social order. For example, poor authoritarians tend to favour redistribution while better off authoritarians tend to be economic right-leaning. Using British Election Study, American National Election Study and European Election Study data we demonstrate this pattern across a range of policy areas and social groups. We find a consistent pattern whereby liberals support policies that promote fairness and equality, and authoritarians support policies that benefit their own social group.

Note: This paper is a very early draft. The results and arguments may change before publication, as additional analysis is conducted. Comments are welcome.

Keywords: authoritarianism, left right, dimensions, public opinions, british elections, elite, mass, libertarianism

Suggested Citation

Mellon, Jonathan and Prosser, Christopher, Authoritarianism, Social Structure and Economic Policy Preferences (August 18, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3022169 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3022169

Jonathan Mellon (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Christopher Prosser

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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