Financialization and Class Politics

Class Politics in Financialized Economies: Evidence from the United Kingdom, 1983-2019

Abstract: Economic rents in the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) industries have grown significantly in recent decades, but their distribution among different classes of workers within this sector has been uneven. In this study, I examine the implications of these distributive patterns for attitudes toward key economic policies, such as government efforts to reduce inflation, unemployment, and poverty. Using large-scale survey data from the UK, I find that individuals employed in the FIRE sector are more likely to support policies that protect financial rents compared to those employed in non-FIRE sectors. Furthermore, an individual’s class position—defined in terms of their ownership, authority, and skills—significantly moderates this sectoral difference in attitudes, even after accounting for personal income levels. Specifically, sectoral differences in attitudes are larger among owners, managers, and skilled/professional workers than among unskilled workers. I conclude by discussing how these differences may affect class political alignments in highly financialized economies.