Status Threat: Moving the Right Further to the Right?

Christopher Sebastian Parker. "Status Threat: Moving the Right Further to the Right?" American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2021, vol. 150: 56-75.


Over the last few years, right-wing movements have proliferated among Western democracies. Although much of the growth has taken place across the “pond” in Europe, this phenomenon is not confined to that continent. As recent events make clear, the United States is another major case. In this essay, I offer a theory of the emergence of reactionary movements, fueled by status threat, using the United
States as a case. To demonstrate the explanatory range of the theory (and measure), I focus on immigration, impeachment, and support for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Examining self-identified Republicans only, I argue that status threat motivates the reactionary wing of the GOP in the United States. Drawing on data culled from a national sample, I find support for my expectation that, beyond ideology and racism, status threat furnishes a new explanation for reactionary preferences. I close with a discussion of the implications.

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