We study whether and how intergenerational social mobility affects political distrust. Mobile individuals may blame/praise the political system for their movement down/up the social ladder. Accordingly, we theorize how social mobility influences the way people evaluate the political system. We use Dutch survey data and apply diagonal reference models to study effects of intergenerational educational mobility. We find that—controlling for the influence of social positions of origin and destination—downward social mobility results in higher levels of distrust. This suggests that the downwardly mobile perceive their demise from a ‘blame the system’ perspective, while the upwardly mobile perceive their success from a meritocratic perspective. Presumably because upwardly and downwardly mobile individuals rely on a different narrative to frame their experience of mobility, only downward mobility has an impact on attitudes towards politics. As our results demonstrate political consequences of social mobility, they highlight that there is a need to include socialization experiences outside the political domain that take place after early childhood into the theoretical framework to explain political trust.

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Acta Politica: international journal of political science

Daenekindt, S., van der Waal, J., & de Koster, W. (2018). Social mobility and political distrust: Cults of gratitude and resentment?. Acta Politica: international journal of political science, 53(2), 269–282. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/113051