working poor, stratification, ideology, Marx, consciousness, American Dream, individualism
The existence of large, relatively comfortable, middle and working classes is what has set the advanced capitalist societies apart from most societies throughout history. These classes, while not quite "privileged," offer the hope of opportunity and upward social mobility for those who work hard. Yet in the last 30 years a growing class of "working poor" has emerged who invest many hours working but at wages that keep upward social mobility beyond their grasp. The existence of the working poor, it seems, dispels a key element in the ideology of individualism; they work hard yet do not "get ahead." This study addresses the contradiction presented by the working poor; specifically, do the working poor support the ideology of individualism? Prior research finds that the disadvantaged justify the system that inhibits them from having a better quality of life (Jost, et al. 2003). This study, however, suggests that the working poor are more conscious of the ideology's failure to explain their lack of mobility in a system that promises opportunity to those who work hard. Research data were generated through the use of telephone surveys in five counties in Central Florida with approximately 1571 respondents. Several measures of "working poor" were created; moreover, respondents within these categories tended to disagree with the "work hard, get ahead" ideology. Respondents who viewed their financial situation as getting worse, unable to grasp the "upward mobility" promise of the American Dream, also significantly disagreed with the ideology.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Kane, Wendi, "Working Hard And Barely Making It: Ideological Contradictions And The Working Poor" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4133.