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Support for Right-Wing Extremist Ideology: Socio-Economic Indicators and Socio-Psychological Mechanisms of Social Identification

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

The study examined the associations between support for right-wing extremism, on the one hand, and social-psychological measures of in-group favoritism (e. g. authoritarianism) and both objective (e. g., income) and subjective (economic insecurity) socio-economic measures, on the other, among 706 Israeli-Jewish respondents. Contrary to the initial tendency to reduce right-wing extremism and define it on the basis of a single characteristic (i.e. anti-foreigner sentiments), it is defined as a broad concept that reflects a multi-layered ideology. We theorized that hostile attitudes towards out-groups are the result of in-group favoritism, and that this may be particularly apt when a sense of socio-economic competition arises. Findings obtained through the analyses of three models via structural equation modeling show that the socio-economic variables have significant direct negative effects on the socio-psychological mediating variables, and also have negative indirect effects on right-wing extremism, via their influence on the mediating socio-psychological variables. While persons with strong social identification tendencies are likely to espouse right-wing extremist ideologies whether they are high or low on the socio-economic status, persons who score low on socio-economic indicators are not likely to support right-wing extremist ideologies unless they also have strong mechanisms of social identification.


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