Study: Americans Are Waking up to Class War

Occupy Wall Street may have gone indoors for the winter, but class war is  increasingly prevalent in the American consciousness.  A recent Pew Research Center survey found that the number of Americans who see strong conflicts between the rich poor is rising among all demographics, and has become the majority opinion.  Americans are not just waking up to the class conflict; they are also increasingly considering it to be more intense. 

From Pew:

A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults found that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.

What's more:

 three-in-ten Americans (30%) say there are “very strong conflicts” between poor people and rich people. That is double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009 and the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987.

According to the study, increasing perception of class war stretches across demographics, with some groups seeing stronger disagreements between rich and poor than others:

Virtually all major demographic groups now perceive significantly more class conflict than two years ago. However, the survey found that younger adults, women, Democrats and African Americans are somewhat more likely than older people, men, Republicans, whites or Hispanics to say there are strong disagreements between rich and poor.

While blacks are still more likely than whites see serious class conflicts, the share of whites who hold this view has increased by 22 percentage points, to 65%, since 2009. At the same time, the proportion of blacks (74%) and Hispanics (61%) sharing this judgment has grown by single digits (8 and 6 points, respectively).

The demographic that showed the largest change was political liberals and Independents:

The biggest increases in perceptions of class conflicts occurred among political liberals and Americans who say they are not affiliated with either major party. In each group the proportion who say there are major disagreements between rich and poor Americans increased by more than 20 percentage points since 2009.

What hasn't really changed, however, is perception of wealth as an entity that is earned:

A 46% plurality believes that most rich people “are wealthy mainly because they know the right people or were born into wealthy families.” But nearly as many have a more favorable view of the rich: 43% say wealthy people became rich “mainly because of their own hard work, ambition or education,” largely unchanged from a Pew survey in 2008.

Read more about the study here

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at January 11, 2012, 10:47am

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