Income remains one of the main indicators of class, as it commonly reflects high educational attainment as well as a prestigious occupation. A discrepancy in the political attitudes can be found among individuals residing in households with differing incomes. For example, during the 2000 election, voter turnout among those in the top 26% with household incomes exceeding $75,000 was 27% higher than the average. A study by Larry Bartels found a positive correlation between Senate votes and opinions of high income people, conversely, low income people had a negative correlation with senate votes.
Social classes have not died, but their political significance has declined substantially; this justifies a shift from class-centred analysis towards multi-causal explanations of political behaviour and related social phenomena. This contribution extends key propositions from Clark and Lipset and adds new empirical evidence to the commentaries by Hout et al. and Pakulski.
Four general propositions are stated concerning where and why class is weaker or stronger. The propositions are then applied to several areas, considering how class has weakened in its impact, especially on politics. We cite several writers of Marxist background to show how they have converged with others in interpreting central developments. The paper notes the impact of organisations like parties and unions, independent of classes, in affecting political processes. It points to the rise of the welfare state as generally weakening class conflict by providing a safety-net and benefits. The diversification of the occupational structure toward small firms, high tech and services weakens class organisational potentials. So does more affluence. Political parties have correspondingly shifted from class conflict to non-economic issues like the environment. The Socialist and Communist Parties have drastically altered their programmes in dozens of countries, away from traditional class politics...