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Viewed from different Engels? Differences in reactions to “socialism” as a policy label

Ozer, Adam, Sullivan, Brian and Van, Douglas (2022) Viewed from different Engels? Differences in reactions to “socialism” as a policy label. Political Research Quarterly, 75 (4). 1297 - 1312. ISSN 1065-9129

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Identification Number: 10.1177/10659129211037402


The supposed popularity of socialism among young Americans has been a trending topic in American political media and campaigns. While evidence from public opinion polls disagrees as to whether socialism is truly gaining in popularity, the use of the term “socialism” has had a profound impact on policy discussions in the media and has featured as a prominent Republican Party strategy in the 2020 election cycle. This gives rise to important questions: How do individuals react to the socialist label? Does the socialist label serve as an ideological or affective signal? Are attacks that frame policies as socialist effective in decreasing policy support? Using original observational and experimental survey data, we find that individuals have strong polarized affective reactions to the socialist label. However, framing popular social welfare policies as socialist is ineffective in undermining popular support. Implications suggest that while framing political policies as socialist may trigger affective polarization, it is likely an ineffective means of political persuasion. As a result, oversaturation of the term in the media may lead to misleading conclusions about both political ideology and individual political behavior.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2021 08:51
Last Modified: 31 May 2024 00:27

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