Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-jks4b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-14T07:14:49.783Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Putting Inequality in Its Place: Rural Consciousness and the Power of Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2012

KATHERINE CRAMER WALSH*
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin—Madison
*
Katherine Cramer Walsh is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 110 North Hall, Madison, WI 53706 (kwalsh2@wisc.edu).

Abstract

Why do people vote against their interests? Previous explanations miss something fundamental because they do not consider the work of group consciousness. Based on participant observation of conversations from May 2007 to May 2011 among 37 regularly occurring groups in 27 communities sampled across Wisconsin, this study shows that in some places, people have a class- and place-based identity that is intertwined with a perception of deprivation. The rural consciousness revealed here shows people attributing rural deprivation to the decision making of (urban) political elites, who disregard and disrespect rural residents and rural lifestyles. Thus these rural residents favor limited government, even though such a stance might seem contradictory to their economic self-interests. The results encourage us to consider the role of group consciousness-based perspectives rather than pitting interests against values as explanations for preferences. Also, the study suggests that public opinion research more seriously include listening to the public.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

REFERENCES

Abdelal, Rawi, Herrera, Yoshiko M., Johnston, Alastair Iain, and McDermott, Rose. 2006. “Identity as a Variable.” Perspectives on Politics 4 (4): 695711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Adcock, Robert. 2003. “What Might It Mean to Be an ‘Interpretivist’?Qualitative Methods 1 (2): 1618.Google Scholar
Agnew, John A. 1987. Place and Politics: The Geographical Mediation of State and Society. Winchester, MA: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
Ansolabehere, Stephen, and Snyder, James M. Jr. 2008. The End of Inequality: One Person, One Vote and the Transformation of American Politics. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
Bachrach, Peter, and Baratz, Morton. 1962. “Two Faces of Power.” American Political Science Review 56: 947–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bartels, Larry. 2008. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Bell, Michael. 1992. “The Fruit of Difference: The Rural–Urban Continuum as a System of Identity.” Rural Sociology 57 (1): 6582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Black, Earl, and Black, Merle. 1987. Politics and Society in the South. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Blumer, Herbert. 1948. “Public Opinion and Public Opinion Polling.” American Sociological Review 13 (5): 542–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boroditsky, Lera. 2000. “Metaphoric Structuring: Understanding Time through Spatial Metaphors.” Cognition 75 (1): 128.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bowen, William M., Haynes, Marie Ellen, and Rosentraub, Mark S.. 2006. “Cities, Tax Revenues, and a State's Fiscal Future: The Value of Major Urban Centers.” Public Budgeting and Finance 26 (1): 4765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brewer, Marilynn B., and Norman, Miller. 1984. “Beyond the Contact Hypothesis: Theoretical Perspectives on Desegregation.” In Groups in Contact: The Psychology of Desegregation, eds. Miller, Norman and Brewer, Marilynn B.. Orlando, FL: Academic Press, 281302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bryce, James. 1913. “The Nature of Public Opinion.” In The American Commonwealth. Vol. II. New York: Macmillan, 251376.Google Scholar
Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip E., Miller, Warren E., and Stokes, Donald E.. 1960. The American Voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Chi, Michelene T. H., Feltovich, Paul J., and Glaser, Robert. 1981. “Categorization and Representation of Physics Problems by Experts and Novices.” Cognitive Science 5: 121–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cho, Wendy K. Tam, Gimpel, James G., and Shaw, Daron R.. 2012. “The Tea Party Movement and the Geography of Collection Action.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 7 (2): 105–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Citrin, Jack, and Philip Green, Donald. 1990. “The Self-interest Motive in American Public Opinion.” In Research in Micropolitics. Vol. 3, ed. Long, Samuel. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 128.Google Scholar
Cohen, Anthony P. 1985. The Symbolic Construction of Community. London: Ellis Horwood.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Conover, Pamela Johnston. 1984. “The Influence of Group Identifications on Political Perception and Evaluation.” Journal of Politics 46: 760–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Conover, Pamela Johnston. 1988. “The Role of Social Groups in Political Thinking.” British Journal of Political Science 18: 5176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Converse, Phillip E. 1964. “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics.” In Ideology and Discontent, ed. Apter, D.E.. New York: Free Press, 206–61.Google Scholar
Craig, Stephen. 1979. “Efficacy, Trust and Political Behavior: An Attempt to Resolve a Lingering Conceptual Dilemma.” American Politics Quarterly 7: 225–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Creed, Gerald W., and Ching, Barbara. 1997. “Recognizing Rusticity.” In Knowing Your Place: Rural Identity and Cultural Hierarchy, eds. Ching, Barbara and Creed, Gerald W.. New York: Routledge, 128.Google Scholar
Dahl, Robert A. 1961. Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Epstein, Leon. 1958. Politics in Wisconsin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
Feldman, Martha S. 1995. Strategies for Interpreting Qualitative Data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fenno, Richard. 1978. Home Style: House Members in Their Districts. Boston: Little Brown.Google Scholar
Finifter, Ada W. 1970. “Dimensions of Political Alienation.” American Political Science Review 64 (2): 389410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fowler, Booth. 2008. Wisconsin Votes: An Electoral History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
Frank, Thomas. 2004. What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
Freudenburg, William R. 1991. “Rural–Urban Differences in Environmental Concern: A Closer Look.” Sociological Inquiry 61 (2): 167–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gainsborough, Juliet F. 2001. Fenced Off: The Suburbanization of American Politics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture.” In The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books, 330.Google Scholar
Geertz, Clifford. 1974. “‘From the Native's Point of View’: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding.” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 28 (1): 2645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gelman, Andrew, with Park, David, Shor, Boris, Bafumi, Joseph, and Cortina, Jeronimo. 2008. Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Gimpel, James G., and Karnes, Kimberly A.. 2006. “The Rural Side of the Rural–Urban Gap.” PS: Political Science and Politics. 39 (3): 467–72.Google Scholar
Gimpel, James G., and Schuknecht, Jason E.. 2003. Patchwork Nation: Sectionalism and Political Change in American Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hetherington, Marc J. 2005. Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Huddy, Leonie. 2003. “Group Identity and Political Cohesion.” In Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, eds. Sears, David O., Huddy, Leonie, and Jervis, Robert. New York: Oxford University Press, 511–58.Google Scholar
Jarosz, Lucy, and Lawson, Victoria. 2002. “‘Sophisticated People vs. Rednecks’: Economic Restructuring and Class Differences in America's West.” Antipode 34 (1): 827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnston, Ronald J. 1991. A Question of Place: Exploring the Practice of Human Geography. Cambridge, MA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Keith, Michael, and Pile, Steve. 1993. “Introduction, Part 1: The Politics of Place. . ..” In Place and the Politics of Identity, eds. Keith, Michael and Pile, Steve. London: Routledge, 121.Google Scholar
Key, V.O., Jr, . 1949. Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: A.A. Knopf.Google Scholar
Knoke, David, and Constance, Henry. 1977. “Political Structure of Rural America.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 429: 5162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lane, Robert E. 1962. Political Ideology: Why the American Common Man Believes What He Does. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet. 1944. The People's Choice: How the Voter Makes Up His Mind in a Presidential Campaign. 2nd ed.New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1981. Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Low, Setha M., and Altman, Irwin. 1992. “Place Attachment: A Conceptual Inquiry.” In Place Attachment, eds. Altman, Irwin and Low, Setha M.. New York: Plenum Press, 112.Google Scholar
McCann, Michael. 1996. “Causal versus Constitutive Explanations (or, On the Difficulty of Being So Positive . . .).” Law and Social Inquiry 21 (2): 457–82.Google Scholar
McClosky, Herbert, and Zaller, John. 1984. The American Ethos: Public Attitudes toward Capitalism and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGee, M. Kevin. 2002. “County Spending and the Subsidy to ‘Urban Sprawl.’Wisconsin Political Scientist 8 (2): 67.Google Scholar
Medin, Douglas L., and Cooley, John D.. 1998. “Concepts and Categorization.” In Perception and Cognition at Century's End, ed. Hochberg, Julian. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Mellow, Muriel. 2005. “The Work of Rural Professionals: Doing the Gemeinschaft–Gesellschaft Gavotte.” Rural Sociology 70 (1): 5069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miles, Matthew B., and Huberman, A. Michael. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Miller, Arthur H., Gurin, Patricia, Gurin, Gerald, and Malanchuk, Oksana. 1981. “Group Consciousness and Political Participation.” American Journal of Political Science 25: 494511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moore, Donald S. 1998. “Subaltern Struggles and the Politics of Place: Remapping Resistance in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands.” Cultural Anthropology 13 (3): 344–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oliver, J. Eric. 2001. Democracy in Suburbia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Parker, Simon. 2004. Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Purnell, Thomas, Salmons, Joseph, Tepeli, Dilara, and Mercer, Jennifer. 2005. “Structured Heterogeneity and Change in Laryngeal Phonetics: Upper Midwestern Final Obstruents.” Journal of English Linguistics 33 (4): 307–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Putnam, Robert D. 2007. “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century: The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture.” Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2): 137–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sears, David O., and Kinder, Donald R.. 1985. “Whites’ Opposition to Busing: On Conceptualizing and Operationalizing Group Conflict.”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48: 1141–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Soja, Edward, and Hooper, Barbara. 1993. “The Spaces That Difference Makes: Some Notes on the Geographical Margins of the New Cultural Politics.” In Place and the Politics of Identity, eds. Keith, Michael and Pile, Steve. London: Routledge, 183205.Google Scholar
Soss, Joe. 2006. “Talking Our Way to Meaningful Explanations: A Practice-centered Approach to In-depth Interviews for Interpretive Research.” In Interpretation and Method, eds. Yanow, Dvora and Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 127–49.Google Scholar
Soss, Joe, and Schram, Sanford F.. 2007. “A Public Transformed? Welfare Reform as Policy Feedback.” American Political Science Review 101 (1): 111–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tajfel, Henri. 1981. Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Tajfel, Henri, Billig, M.G., Bundy, R.P., and Flament, Claude. 1971. “Social Categorization and Intergroup Behavior.” European Journal of Social Psychology 1: 149–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tajfel, Henri, and Turner, John. 1986. “The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior.” In Psychology of Intergroup Relations, eds. Worchel, Stephen and Austin, William G.. Chicago: Nelson–Hall, 724.Google Scholar
Taylor, Charles. 1971. “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man.” Review of Metaphysics 25 (1): 351.Google Scholar
Tönnies, Ferdinand. 1957. Community and Society [Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft]. Trans. and ed. Loomis, Charles P.. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.Google Scholar
Turner, John C., Hogg, Michael A., Oakes, Penelope J., Reicher, S.D., and Wetherell, Margaret S.. 1987. Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-Categorization Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Turner, John C., Oakes, Penelope J., Haslam, S. Alexander, and McGarty, Craig. 1994. “Self and Collective: Cognition and Social Context.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 20: 454–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Verba, Sidney, and Nie, Norman H.. 1972. Participation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Walsh, Katherine Cramer. 2009. “Scholars as Citizens: Studying Public Opinion through Ethnography.” In Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power, ed. Schatz, Ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 165–82.Google Scholar
Wendt, Alexander. 1998. “On Constitution and Causation in International Relations.” Review of International Studies 24 (5): 101–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williamson, Vanessa, Skocpol, Theda, and Coggin, John. 2011. “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism.” Perspectives on Politics 9: 2543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wirth, Louis. 1938. “Urbanism as a Way of Life.” American Journal of Sociology 44: 324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wong, Cara, and Cho, Grace E.. 2005. “Two-headed Coins or Kandinskys: White Racial Identification.” Political Psychology 26: 699720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Walsh supplementary material

Appendix

Download Walsh supplementary material(File)
File 105.5 KB