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<p>In this article we analyze data from high-quality surveys conducted in the U.S. and U.K. that included multiple symbolic and operational measures of political ideology and psychological orientations to revisit three major questions about public opinion in neoliberal societies: (1) Are ordinary citizens “innocent” of ideology? (2) Are social and economic dimensions of ideology structurally and functionally independent? (3) Are support for laissez-faire capitalism and opposition to welfare — hallmarks of neoliberal ideology — unrelated or negatively related to authoritarianism? In contrast to previous investigations relying upon fewer and poorer measures, we find that ordinary citizens do indeed hold coherent political attitudes, and their attitudes about social and economic issues are closely aligned. For instance, we observe that for 5 previously published ideological instruments, social and economic attitudes are robustly correlated in two large U.S. samples (with rs ranging from .40 to .69)—for respondents who are relatively low (.31 ≤ r ≤ .60) as well as high in political sophistication (.50 ≤ r ≤ .77). And, contradicting prior claims, we see no evidence that support for the free market is negatively associated with authoritarianism for any group of respondents or any measure of authoritarianism. On the contrary, economic conservatism and the endorsement of neoliberal attitudes are strongly associated with right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, economic system justification, and gender-specific system justification (with rs ranging from .53 to .76). We conclude that the belief systems of ordinary citizens are coherently organized around support for vs. opposition to both social and economic forms of inequality and are linked to individual differences in authoritarianism, social dominance, and system justification in contemporary capitalist societies.</p>
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