Publication Date

April 2018

Advisor(s)

Jonathan Cutler

Major

Sociology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

In the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, the question of why white working-class Americans vote against their own economic interests in support of the Republican party has become a topic of much academic discussion. What existing scholarship largely dismisses, however, is the condescension with which this question is posed. In this thesis, I challenge the assumption that voters make decisions out of ignorance or as a result of political deception. I focus on the population of Putnam County, New York, an area made up predominantly of white, Catholic, working-class residents, and analyze a variety of infrequently studied motivations for the dominance of Republican politics among them. By using a specific local focus on one community and by prioritizing an effort to not be patronizing toward the population of study, this analysis disrupts our typical understanding of conservative political backlash, and asks academia to reconsider the approach it has normally taken in this field of study.

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