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Public opinion against markets?: attitudes towards market distribution of social services - a comparison of 17 countries
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
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. Vol. 49, no 7, 887-910 p.
Keyword [en]
Market, Inequality, Social services, Attitudes, Public opinion, Welfare State, Comparative analysis
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88492DOI: 10.1111/spol.12105ISI: 000368267400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88492DiVA: diva2:715929
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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