Special Issue "Attitudes about Inequalities"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Liza G. Steele

City University of New York (CUNY), John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Social policy preferences (preferences for redistribution), stratification/inequality, global/transnational sociology
Guest Editor
Dr. Nate Breznau

Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: welfare state, public opinion, social policy, institutions, immigration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, stratification by income and wealth has been increasing in many parts of the world. At the same time, inequalities by race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, gender, and sexuality have also been in flux. Research across disciplines suggests that attitudes and public opinion play diverse roles in these processes. Although we expect public opinion to be most salient in democracies, there are cases in democracies and non-democracies alike in which these changes have reflected changes in public opinion, and others in which policy changes have diverged notably from public opinion.

For this purpose, Societies invites manuscripts of original research that examine attitudes or public opinion about inequalities pertaining to socioeconomic status, class, race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, gender, or sexuality, particularly as they pertain to social policies or the social welfare state. We welcome submissions using a variety of empirical methods. Regarding geographic scope, studies may be global, or specific to regions, nations, or sub-national areas; and we welcome comparative studies and those looking at changes over time.

Dr. Liza G. Steele
Dr. Nate Breznau
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Policy preferences
  • Social policy preferences
  • Preferences for redistribution
  • Stratification beliefs
  • Stratification/inequalities
  • Public opinion
  • Attitudes

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Strong Welfare States Do Not Intensify Public Support for Income Redistribution, but Even Reduce It among the Prosperous: A Multilevel Analysis of Public Opinion in 30 Countries
Societies 2018, 8(4), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040105
Received: 25 June 2018 / Revised: 14 October 2018 / Accepted: 15 October 2018 / Published: 26 October 2018
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Abstract
How tightly linked are the strength of a country’s welfare state and its residents’ support for income redistribution? Multilevel model results (with appropriate controls) show that the publics of strong welfare states recognize their egalitarian income distributions, i.e., the stronger the welfare state,
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How tightly linked are the strength of a country’s welfare state and its residents’ support for income redistribution? Multilevel model results (with appropriate controls) show that the publics of strong welfare states recognize their egalitarian income distributions, i.e., the stronger the welfare state, the less the actual and perceived inequality; but they do not differ from their peers in liberal welfare states/market-oriented societies in their preferences for equality. Thus, desire for redistribution bears little overall relationship to welfare state activity. However, further investigation shows a stronger relationship under the surface: Poor people’s support for redistribution is nearly constant across levels of welfarism. By contrast, the stronger the welfare state, the less the support for redistribution among the prosperous, perhaps signaling “harvest fatigue” due to paying high taxes and longstanding egalitarian policies. Our findings are not consistent with structuralist/materialist theory, nor with simple dominant ideology or system justification arguments, but are partially consistent with a legitimate framing hypothesis, with an atomistic self-interest hypothesis, with a reference group solidarity hypothesis, and with the “me-and-mine” hypothesis incorporating sociotropic and egotropic elements. Database: the World Inequality Study: 30 countries, 71 surveys, and over 88,0000 individuals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle Inequality Perceptions, Preferences Conducive to Redistribution, and the Conditioning Role of Social Position
Societies 2018, 8(4), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040099
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 9 October 2018 / Accepted: 11 October 2018 / Published: 16 October 2018
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Abstract
Inequality poses one of the biggest challenges of our time. It is not self-correcting in the sense that citizens demand more redistributive measures in light of rising inequality, which recent studies suggest may be due to the fact that citizens’ perceptions of inequality
[...] Read more.
Inequality poses one of the biggest challenges of our time. It is not self-correcting in the sense that citizens demand more redistributive measures in light of rising inequality, which recent studies suggest may be due to the fact that citizens’ perceptions of inequality diverge from objective levels. Moreover, it is not the latter, but the former, which are related to preferences conducive to redistribution. However, the nascent literature on inequality perceptions has, so far, not accounted for the role of subjective position in society. The paper advances the argument that the relationship between inequality perceptions and preferences towards redistribution is conditional on the subjective position of respondents. To that end, I analyze comprehensive survey data on inequality perceptions from the social inequality module of the International Social Survey Programme (1992, 1999, and 2009). Results show that inequality perceptions are associated with preferences conducive to redistribution particularly among those perceived to be at the top of the social ladder. Gaining a better understanding of inequality perceptions contributes to comprehending the absence self-correcting inequality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle Welfare Chauvinism, Economic Insecurity and the Asylum Seeker “Crisis”
Societies 2018, 8(3), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030083
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 14 August 2018 / Accepted: 29 August 2018 / Published: 10 September 2018
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Abstract
Immigration has been a major trend in the last decades in Europe. However, immigrant access to the social security systems has remained a contentious issue having gained additional salience in light of the recent asylum-seeking developments. We focus on welfare chauvinism, the idea
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Immigration has been a major trend in the last decades in Europe. However, immigrant access to the social security systems has remained a contentious issue having gained additional salience in light of the recent asylum-seeking developments. We focus on welfare chauvinism, the idea that immigrants should not participate in welfare resources, as an attitudinal dimension. We seek to answer two primary questions: To what extent are different types of objective and subjective material deprivation related to welfare chauvinism? What is the role of the recent asylum seeker influx? Using European Social Survey data and employing binary and generalized ordered logit models with country fixed effects, we find perceptions of deprivation to be more meaningful than objective factors related to potential job loss, and some relationships depend on the specific type of deprivation. On the country level, in line with the deservingness of asylum seekers as a group, higher levels of asylum seeking are related to lower levels of welfare chauvinism, while GDP per capita is not associated with welfare chauvinism. Finally, the generalized ordered logit model shows that some relationships vary according to the strictness of welfare chauvinism, which would not be visible in a conventional ordered logit model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle The Effects of Perceived Neighborhood Diversity on Preferences for Redistribution: A Pilot Study
Societies 2018, 8(3), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030082
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 10 September 2018
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Abstract
A substantial literature exists within sociology and political science positing a negative link between racial/ethnic heterogeneity and a host of social goods issues. Recent large-scale meta-analyses, however, have established that the effect of racial/ethnic heterogeneity on social policy attitudes may be more salient
[...] Read more.
A substantial literature exists within sociology and political science positing a negative link between racial/ethnic heterogeneity and a host of social goods issues. Recent large-scale meta-analyses, however, have established that the effect of racial/ethnic heterogeneity on social policy attitudes may be more salient at the local or even neighborhood level. In extending this work, we examined how racial/ethnic heterogeneity affects attitudes about redistribution within one of the most diverse and ethnically heterogeneous cities in the world, New York City. Specifically, we assessed the effects of perceived neighborhood racial/ethnic heterogeneity on preferences for redistribution and social policies among members of majority and minority groups. A diverse sample of New York City residents recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) responded to a series of questions regarding their perceptions of the diversity of their neighborhood before indicating their social policy preferences. We found that neighborhood racial/ethnic heterogeneity was associated with greater support for redistribution and social policies. The only evidence of a negative association with support for redistribution or social policies was for black and white respondents living in majority white neighborhoods. Together, these data suggest that perceptions of racial/ethnic heterogeneity on redistributive and social policy attitudes may be a function of one’s group status. Implications for the existing research are discussed. In particular, we believe this work offers new insights into the relationship between racial/ethnic heterogeneity and social policy preferences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle Labor Market Insiders or Outsiders? A Cross-National Examination of Redistributive Preferences of the Working Poor
Societies 2018, 8(3), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030072
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 14 August 2018 / Accepted: 27 August 2018 / Published: 31 August 2018
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Abstract
Prior research on attitudes toward redistribution documents an association between one’s policy preferences and socioeconomic position, as well as an impact of welfare policy on the mean level of support for redistribution. Building on both traditions, the current paper aims to expand our
[...] Read more.
Prior research on attitudes toward redistribution documents an association between one’s policy preferences and socioeconomic position, as well as an impact of welfare policy on the mean level of support for redistribution. Building on both traditions, the current paper aims to expand our understanding of the sources of public support for welfare policies by examining the role that social policy plays in shaping the policy preferences of the working poor. Building on the distinction between labor market insiders and outsiders, this paper examines whether preferences by the working poor more closely resemble those of non-poor workers or those of non-working poor individuals. Results from this study show that the degree of support for redistribution among the working poor is notably closer to the average degree reported by non-working poor individuals than the mean level reported by non-poor workers. Moreover, utilizing cross-national data from 31 countries in 13 different time-points between 1985 and 2010, the paper documents a much smaller preference gap between non-poor workers and the working poor and a higher overall level of support for redistribution in countries providing a greater degree of employment protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle The Intercohort Dynamics of Support for Redistribution in 54 Countries, 1985–2017
Societies 2018, 8(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030069
Received: 26 May 2018 / Revised: 2 August 2018 / Accepted: 21 August 2018 / Published: 25 August 2018
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Abstract
When do attitudes towards inequality change? Scholars have examined why publics change their attitudes regarding support for redistribution (SFR). Yet almost all studies focus on SFR change from one year to another. We shift focus by conceptualizing SFR change as occurring across birth
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When do attitudes towards inequality change? Scholars have examined why publics change their attitudes regarding support for redistribution (SFR). Yet almost all studies focus on SFR change from one year to another. We shift focus by conceptualizing SFR change as occurring across birth cohorts socialized into different cultural zeitgeists. We combine data from 21 waves of cross-national survey data using the International Social Survey Program and European Social Survey covering 54 countries, 32 years, and over a century of birth years. In many countries, we reach substantially different conclusions on the nature of SFR change when examining intercohort dynamics. In several cases, we detect rapidly declining SFR belied by year-to-year stability of attitudes, representing an important challenge for proponents of egalitarian politics. Additional findings and implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle Inequality Is a Problem of Inference: How People Solve the Social Puzzle of Unequal Outcomes
Societies 2018, 8(3), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030064
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (418 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A new wave of scholarship recognizes the importance of people’s understanding of inequality that underlies their political convictions, civic values, and policy views. Much less is known, however, about the sources of people’s different beliefs. I argue that scholarship is hampered by a
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A new wave of scholarship recognizes the importance of people’s understanding of inequality that underlies their political convictions, civic values, and policy views. Much less is known, however, about the sources of people’s different beliefs. I argue that scholarship is hampered by a lack of consensus regarding the conceptualization and measurement of inequality beliefs, in the absence of an organizing theory. To fill this gap, in this paper, I develop a framework for studying the social basis of people’s explanations for inequality. I propose that people observe unequal outcomes and must infer the invisible forces that brought these about, be they meritocratic or structural in nature. In making inferences about the causes of inequality, people draw on lessons from past experience and information about the world, both of which are biased and limited by their background, social networks, and the environments they have been exposed to. Looking at inequality beliefs through this lens allows for an investigation into the kinds of experiences and environments that are particularly salient in shaping people’s inferential accounts of inequality. Specifically, I make a case for investigating how socializing institutions such as schools and neighborhoods are “inferential spaces” that shape how children and young adults come to learn about their unequal society and their own place in it. I conclude by proposing testable hypotheses and implications for research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle The Remains of the Socialist Legacy: The Influence of Socialist Socialization on Attitudes toward Income Inequality
Societies 2018, 8(3), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030062
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
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Abstract
Despite convergence processes between Western and post-socialist societies in the past three decades, there are still considerable cross-country differences in individuals’ attitudes toward income inequality. To explain these differences, studies have primarily focused on the role of macro level differences and have only
[...] Read more.
Despite convergence processes between Western and post-socialist societies in the past three decades, there are still considerable cross-country differences in individuals’ attitudes toward income inequality. To explain these differences, studies have primarily focused on the role of macro level differences and have only theoretically acknowledged how the role of diverging socialization experiences could also be responsible. To date, little is known about the importance of socialization for attitudes toward income inequality. This article assesses whether the differences between Western and post-socialist countries are influenced by socialization effects. Applying an adapted age-period-cohort analysis on the dataset of the International Social Survey Program’s (ISSP) “Social Inequality” module in survey years 1992, 1999, and 2009, the paper shows that socialization has a substantial effect on attitudes and a socialist socialization clearly differentiates individuals from post-socialist countries from Westerners. Results underline that experiences gained in formative years are crucial for attitudes. A further finding is that both perception and preferences toward income inequality are influenced by socialization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle The Impact of the Great Recession on Perceived Immigrant Threat: A Cross-National Study of 22 Countries
Societies 2018, 8(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030052
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 5 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 16 July 2018
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Abstract
In an increasingly globalized world, anti-immigrant sentiment has become more prevalent. Competitive threat theory suggests that anti-immigrant attitudes increase when adverse economic circumstances intensify competition with immigrants for scarce resources, but past studies using this approach are inconclusive. In this study, we investigate
[...] Read more.
In an increasingly globalized world, anti-immigrant sentiment has become more prevalent. Competitive threat theory suggests that anti-immigrant attitudes increase when adverse economic circumstances intensify competition with immigrants for scarce resources, but past studies using this approach are inconclusive. In this study, we investigate the impact of the Great Recession on perceived immigrant threat—an index of seven items measuring attitudes toward immigrants—using the 2013 International Social Survey Program survey. Using multilevel models, we analyze responses from 18,433 respondents nested within 22 countries. We create a country-level measure of the Great Recession Index comprised of four dimensions—the housing crash, the financial crisis, economic decline, and employment loss—and assess its impact on perceived immigrant threat. After controlling for a variety of individual-level and country-level covariates, we find that the Great Recession is positively associated with perceived immigrant threat. We also identify important interaction effects between the Great Recession Index and change in government expenditures, age, educational levels, citizenship, and urbanization. The study contributes to competitive threat theory by showing the effect of the Great Recession in exacerbating anti-immigrant sentiment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle Retirement Expectations in Germany—Towards Rising Social Inequality?
Societies 2018, 8(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030050
Received: 1 May 2018 / Revised: 3 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 10 July 2018
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Abstract
In the last 20 years, German policy makers have reformed the pension system and the labor market with the aim of prolonging working life. As a consequence, older workers’ employment rate and average retirement age rose. In addition to the actual behavior of
[...] Read more.
In the last 20 years, German policy makers have reformed the pension system and the labor market with the aim of prolonging working life. As a consequence, older workers’ employment rate and average retirement age rose. In addition to the actual behavior of today’s retiree cohorts, the reforms also influence the expected retirement age of future pensioners, the development of which will be investigated in this paper, arguing that they have adapted to the reforms and increased their expected retirement age. The analyses are based on data from the SOEP and DEAS survey and results show an increase of the expected retirement age. However, while high-skilled workers both want and expect to retire late, low-skilled workers prefer to retire early but expect that they have to work longer in order to ensure a reasonable pension. This finding hints at rising social inequality in the transition from work to retirement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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Open AccessArticle Tax Constraints, Social Policy Preferences, and Support for Redistribution
Societies 2018, 8(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030046
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 29 June 2018
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Abstract
The aim of this paper is to explore whether support for the welfare state is lower if people are made aware of its costs. Using data from a series of survey experiments in the German Internet Panel, we analyse individual spending preferences for
[...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to explore whether support for the welfare state is lower if people are made aware of its costs. Using data from a series of survey experiments in the German Internet Panel, we analyse individual spending preferences for different areas of the welfare state and support for redistribution. Tax constraints lead to lower support for unemployment benefits and for redistribution. Tax constraints do not affect support for more spending on pensions, healthcare, and long-term care. We consider whether the effect of tax constraints varies with pre-existing political attitudes or with individual material circumstances. We find little evidence that a political ideology makes respondents more responsive to tax constraints. However, we find some support that low income respondents are less responsive to the tax constraint and maintain their high support despite its costs. Attitudes towards the welfare state are not independent of attitudes towards taxation, and we conclude that our understanding of public attitudes might considerably benefit from combining these different strands of the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitudes about Inequalities)
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