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Research project

Cheering for a rigged system? Explaining working-class votes for the meritocracy

This project has been funded via the EUI Early Stage Researchers (ESR) call 2023.

Meritocratic beliefs are consequential in explaining support for redistribution, yet we still know little of why working-class individuals buy into the rhetoric of meritocracy despite low levels of upward mobility.

A survey experiment will be conducted in order to differentiate among competing explanations related to a lack of alternatives, aspirational beliefs, or a psychological benefit. The survey design makes participants choose between class and merit-based political rhetoric. By asking participants to state their preference, associating the rhetoric with policy content, and measuring the effect on identity, the experiment will show if working-class participants prefer a merit-based discourse to a class-based one when given an alternative, and clarify the mechanism through which this happens.

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