My book, Class Attitudes in America, is forthcoming in 2018 from Cambridge University Press.


This book explains a long-standing puzzle in the study of American politics: why so many Americans support downwardly redistributive social welfare policies. Such support flies in the face of standard conceptions of the American public as anti-government, individualistic, and racially prejudiced. The explanation is that sympathy for the poor and resentment of the rich cause many Americans to support downwardly redistributive social welfare policies.

Along the way, I identify two important attitudes toward class groups that have been long overlooked: sympathy for the poor and resentment of the rich. These attitudes are fundamental elements of mass political life in the United States.

I also explain why government does so little to combat economic inequality. In key instances, political elites downplay class considerations, deactivating sympathy for the poor and resentment of the rich. Politicians can thereby pacify the public, leaving them free to respond to the interests of their super-wealthy political donors.