Neoliberals and Neoconservatives: A Conservative Coin Standing on Edge over the Same-sex Marriage Question

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Zoann Snyder



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The same-sex marriage question, recently decided favorably by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, has generally been opposed by those who identify as conservative in the United States on various moral, normative, or religious grounds — but some conservatives are changing their minds. These oppositional claims often find root in divisions within conservative ideology. Neoliberals and neoconservatives are the two general divisions among conservatives found in the scholarly literature, and each has its own specific articulation of the social meaning of marriage that helps it to further its impulses on that social issue.

This study quantitatively tests theoretical positions set forth in qualitative queer critical discourse analysis, which finds that neoconservatives and neoliberals have overlapping uses and meanings of marriage that at times agree and other times disagree – each pushing and pulling to create a splintered American conservative position on the same-sex marriage issue. Using General Social Survey 2014 data, this study reports the positions of neoconservatives and neoliberals on their same-sex marriage stance, and observes the overlap while also taking into consideration sex, age, and education levels.

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