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From Social Class and Religious Identity to Status Incongruence in Post-Industrial Societies

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

In political behaviour, religion has played the role of a barrier against the lower social classes, at such a degree that in most democracies, the vertical cleavages (ethnicity, religion, language, race) have been stronger than the horizontal cleavage (income, education, professional status). Social changes in the last few decades have generated a decline of the social class as well as of the religious factor in the interpretation of political alignments. The concept of status incongruence appears to be a better explanation of contemporary social attitudes and political behaviour. Status imbalances are frequent in advanced pluralist societies, and rare in traditional societies of the Third World. For this reason, this analysis focuses on Western countries. Key words: social status, working class, decline of religious beliefs, status inconsistency, status crystallization, criss-crossing cleavages, downward mobility, individualization.


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