Abstract

“Subjective Social Status and Identity Construction in Advanced Knowledge Societies”

The concepts of ‘identity’ and ‘status’, experiencing a revival, have furthered our understanding of electoral divides emerging in advanced democracies over past decades. This paper investigates theoretical and empirical links between these two concepts, which occupy a valuable, growing intersection of political economy, (political) sociology and social psychology. I argue that we can better understand how group identities matter for changing conflict structures when also considering subjective status, and vice versa, since the concept of status serves to describe various conceivable relationships between identity groups. I introduce and empirically illustrate (using survey data from Switzerland) three ideal-typical scenarios of how identities and status perceptions may relate to each other: 1) shared beliefs about social hierarchies, 2) open struggle over definitions of worth, or 3) segmentation, in which groups maintain separate, competing systems of valuation. All three scenarios matter for politics, but they have very different observable and real-life implications.