Share this

Class Attitudes in America: Sympathy for the Poor, Resentment of the Rich, and Political Implications, Spencer Piston

Reviewed by Anthony R. Dimaggio



Scholarship on the politics of inequality in the United States has become increasingly common since the 2008 economic crash, and economic insecurity occupies a central place in American political discourse. Spencer Piston’s, Class Attitudes in America adds to this discourse by providing insights into how views of poverty and wealth affect Americans’ political attitudes and voter preferences. The book should be read by all social science scholars seeking to understand how “class matters” to American politics today.

The study of class attitudes has unfortunately been neglected in mainstream political science research (p. 6). Piston seeks to address this deficiency through statistical analyses of national survey data and experimental data, which focus on how Americans look at the rich and poor. The methodological pluralism of this work is one of its strengths, aiding the author in making a causal claim for how attitudes toward the rich and poor impact political preferences.

At its core, this work argues that while income may not be driving political polarization between different classes of Americans, perceptions of the rich and poor do have an impact on the public’s political attitudes. As Piston writes, “Americans may not be divided very much by their class positions, but they are deeply divided by their cl

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


Book Talk | Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive
May 24, 2022


Editor’s spotlight

Women's History Month

Woodrow Wilson, Alice Paul, and the Woman Suffrage Movement
Sally Hunter Graham

The Year of the Woman? Candidates, Voters, and the 1992 Elections
Ester R. Fuchs and Michael X. Delli Carpini


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS