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Public Support for Corporate Social Responsibility in the Welfare State: Evidence from Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
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. Vol. 38, no 1, 75-94 p.
Keyword [en]
corporate social responsibility, csr, welfare state, public opinion, attitudes, political sociology
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88493DOI: 10.1111/1467-9477.12035ISI: 000348711200005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88493DiVA: diva2:715930
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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