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From inequality to polarisation: class structure divide and the differences in social and political attitudes





The paper presents the dynamics of class structure transformation since the year 1988 focusing on the ongoing stratification of formal education, occupational status and the per capita income. Distance separating wealthy business-owners from the less fortunate keeps growing as a result of wealth concentration on the one hand and continuous pauperization on the other. These processes are reflected in the so-called St. Matthew effect. It – roughly speaking – predicts that those who have much will eventually have more while those who have little will have even less. The growing social inequality in Poland occurs in the class-structural context. It is worthwhile to know whether the St. Matthew effect is also instrumental in generating opposite social and political orientations. To answer this question we examine the data of the Polish Panel Survey 1988–2008 (POLPAN). Our analysis demonstrates that location of individuals in the social-class structure influences their attitudes toward market economy and their perception of social conflicts.

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