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Attitudes towards the Market and the Welfare State: Incorporating attitudes towards the market into welfare state research
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social policy and its associated institutions are central political arenas for societal compromise and conflict. The capacity to attract strong support from a wide constituency of citizens is, therefore, a defining feature of welfare policy legitimacy. While there is much research measuring attitudes towards state-organized welfare, the overall aim of this thesis is to incorporate attitudes towards the market into this research field. This aim is carried out through four empirical studies that add a market component to the analysis of different topics covered in current welfare state research. The articles in this thesis either compare attitudes across countries or deploy Swedish public opinion as a test case. Newly designed or previously underutilized survey measures are used that explicitly cover attitudes towards the market. Latent class analysis, structural equation modeling, and multilevel analysis are used to study how attitudes vary both within and across countries.

 

Citizens’ perceptions and evaluations of the market are found to be shaped by their everyday life experiences within the market structure. Moreover, citizens’ trust in the performance of market institutions is found to be important in structuring their welfare policy preferences. In addition, attitudes towards the market appear to be influenced by the institutional context: citizens living in countries with more ambitious welfare states are less inclined to support market distribution of social services, and class differences in political welfare attitudes tend to be larger in countries with more encompassing welfare states. Collected findings thus suggest that citizens living in countries with more generous welfare states are more inclined to think that the legitimate scope of the market nexus should be negotiated and calibrated via social policy.

 

By incorporating attitudes towards the market in relation to welfare state support, this thesis contributes to increasing our understanding of the political and moral mindset of citizens in advanced political economies. Public attitudes towards the welfare state are to a significant degree formed by perceptions and evaluations of the market and its actors. In order to further our knowledge about preferences regarding the role of the state in modern society, and to stay in tune with ongoing policy developments, future socio-political research is well advised to bring the main alternative to the state – the market and its actors – into the analytical framework.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2014. , 34 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 75
Keyword [en]
Market, welfare state, social policy, political attitudes, public opinion, trust, class, marketization
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88490ISBN: 978-91-7601-031-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88490DiVA: diva2:715934
Public defence
2014-06-05, Hörsal 1031, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-15 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2014-05-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The democratic class struggle revisited: the welfare state, social cohesion and political conflict
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The democratic class struggle revisited: the welfare state, social cohesion and political conflict
2015 (English)In: Acta Sociologica, ISSN 0001-6993, E-ISSN 1502-3869, Vol. 58, no 4, 311-328 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper attempts to resolve disagreements concerning how class conflicts are manifested in contemporary welfare states. An analytical distinction is made between social (tensions/antagonism between classes) and political (class based differences in political preferences) manifestations of class conflict. Using ISSP data (1999/2009) from 20 countries, the results indicate that social conflict is more common in meagre welfare states where material inequality is relatively high compared to encompassing highly redistributive welfare states where levels of material inequality are relatively low. When it comes to distributive struggles in the political sphere – political conflict – the pattern is reversed. The results do not support arguments emphasizing that class as an analytical concept is irrelevant for understanding socio-political phenomena in modern industrial democracies. Instead, the results suggest that the character of class conflict varies across national socio-economic contexts in tandem with between-country variation in the institutional setup of the welfare state. The results support the theory outlined in The Democratic Class Struggle, which suggests that in modern welfare states, institutionalized political conflict tends to replace less institutionalized and unorganized social conflict. This is more the case in encompassing welfare states than in residual welfare states.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015
Keyword
welfare state, class, conflict, social policy, redistribution, preferences
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88491 (URN)10.1177/0001699315610176 (DOI)000364166600002 ()
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2015-12-03Bibliographically approved
2. Institutional trust and welfare statesupport: on the role of trust in marketinstitutions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Institutional trust and welfare statesupport: on the role of trust in marketinstitutions
2013 (English)In: Journal of Public Policy, ISSN 0143-814X, E-ISSN 1469-7815, Vol. 33, no 3, 295-317 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The importance of institutional trust for structuring welfare statesupport (WSS) has been advanced by several scholars. Yet, the thesis has notreceived convincing empirical support. We argue that the weak evidence observedby previous research is caused by the failure of not extending the analyticalframework beyond the study of public institutions. Using Sweden as a test case,our analytical framework covers trust in public institutions (TPI) and marketinstitutions (TMI). The main findings are: (1) TMI has a robust negative effecton WSS; (2) the expected relationship between TPI and WSS is strengthenedcontrolling for TMI; (3) TMI mediates the relationships between socio-economicvariables and WSS. These findings underline the importance of bringing in otherinstitutional configurations that are seen as conceivable alternatives to the state foradministrating social welfare, not the least in studies primarily interested in thelink between TPI and support for state-organised welfare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013
Keyword
attitudes, institutions, market, public, trust, welfare state
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-81915 (URN)10.1017/S0143814X13000160 (DOI)000325698200003 ()
Available from: 2013-10-23 Created: 2013-10-23 Last updated: 2014-05-07Bibliographically approved
3. Public opinion against markets?: attitudes towards market distribution of social services - a comparison of 17 countries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Public opinion against markets?: attitudes towards market distribution of social services - a comparison of 17 countries
2015 (English)In: Social Policy & Administration, ISSN 0144-5596, E-ISSN 1467-9515, Vol. 49, no 7, 887-910 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article studies how citizens view the appropriateness of market criteria for allocating services commonly associated with social citizenship rights and welfare state responsibility. The article focuses specifically on a potential role for the market in the provision of social services. The relationship between welfare policy institutions, socio-economic class and attitudes is explored by comparing attitudes across 17 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, using multilevel modelling and data from the 2009 International Social Survey Programme. Results show that public support for market distribution of services is relatively weak in most countries, a result suggesting that public opinion is unlikely to pose a driving force within ongoing processes of welfare marketization. Still, attitudes are found to vary a lot across countries in tandem with between-country variation in welfare policy design. First, aggregate public support for market distribution of services is stronger in countries with more private spending on services. Second, class differences in attitudes are larger in countries with more extensive state-led delivery of services. Together, these results point to the operation of normative feedback-effects flowing from existing welfare policy arrangements. The theoretical arguments and the empirical results presented in this article suggest that future research exploring the relationship between welfare policy and public opinion from a country-comparative perspective is well advised to place greater focus on the market institutions that, to varying extents in different countries, act as complements to the state in the administration of social welfare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2015
Keyword
Market, Inequality, Social services, Attitudes, Public opinion, Welfare State, Comparative analysis
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88492 (URN)10.1111/spol.12105 (DOI)000368267400005 ()
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2016-02-17Bibliographically approved
4. Public Support for Corporate Social Responsibility in the Welfare State: Evidence from Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Public Support for Corporate Social Responsibility in the Welfare State: Evidence from Sweden
2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Political Studies, ISSN 0080-6757, E-ISSN 1467-9477, Vol. 38, no 1, 75-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Several scholars have claimed that we are currently witnessing a growing saliency of so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR). Yet, while there is a lot of work suggesting that public opinion might prompt firms to behave in socially responsible ways, there is a lack of empirical studies exploring the extent ordinary to which citizens actually support CSR. Moreover, the state is conventionally theorized as the main institutional device for governing markets and their social consequences, and there is a growing literature exploring the relationship between CSR and the state. On the basis of these observations, this paper juxtaposes public attitudes towards CSR and state intervention in the market.  Considering that attitudes might vary across groups with different structural relationships to the firm, this study also looks at the social bases of support for different attitude profiles. Using Swedish survey data collected in 2011 and latent class analysis, the empirical results demonstrate that most Swedes in favor of CSR are highly supportive of state intervention in the market. The study of social cleavages restates this pattern: social groups with fewer marketable resources are strongly overrepresented in supporting a combination of CSR and state intervention in the market. No clear social profile is found for the relatively small group of people who support CSR but not state intervention. It is concluded that voluntary CSR is unlikely to offer a serious full-scale alternative to the welfare state: Swedes continue to think of public authorities as the ultimate institutional guarantor of social welfare. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2015
Keyword
corporate social responsibility, csr, welfare state, public opinion, attitudes, political sociology
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88493 (URN)10.1111/1467-9477.12035 (DOI)000348711200005 ()
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2015-04-26Bibliographically approved

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