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The democratic class struggle revisited: the welfare state, social cohesion and political conflict
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
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. Vol. 58, no 4, 311-328 p.
Keyword [en]
welfare state, class, conflict, social policy, redistribution, preferences
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88491DOI: 10.1177/0001699315610176ISI: 000364166600002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88491DiVA: diva2:715926
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Attitudes towards the Market and the Welfare State: Incorporating attitudes towards the market into welfare state research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attitudes towards the Market and the Welfare State: Incorporating attitudes towards the market into welfare state research
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
Market, welfare state, social policy, political attitudes, public opinion, trust, class, marketization
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88490 (URN)978-91-7601-031-0 (ISBN)
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

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