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Equality, equity or need? Public opinion towards distributive justice in the changing welfare state

Contemporary Western societies are characterized by a de-structuring of the social contract of

organized modernity. This brings along renewed discussions on distributive justice, i.e. how the

burdens and benefits of our welfare system can be distributed fairly. Three principles of

distributive justice are distinguished: (1) equity: distribution dependent on contributions; (2)

equality: the same access to social welfare for all citizens; (3) need: selective concern to citizens

highest in need.

Although contemporary societal conflicts are essentially rooted in these principles, a limited body

of research has tapped into public opinion on distributive justice. This project aims to contribute to

the literature by providing insight into citizens’ distributive justice preferences in two distinct

ways: First, this project will conceptualize and investigate distributive justice preferences through

a context-dependent and multi-layered approach. Second, I will investigate the roots of

distributive justice preferences by identifying individual determinants, (e.g. social structure,

resentment and ideology) as well as macro-level explanations (institutional, economic and cultural


Date:1 Oct 2018  →  Today
Keywords:Distributive justice, Public opinion, Welfare state
Disciplines:Applied sociology, Policy and administration, Social psychology, Social stratification, Social theory and sociological methods, Sociology of life course, family and health, Other sociology and anthropology
Project type:PhD project