Culture and Welfare State
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Culture and Welfare State

Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective

Edited by Wim van Oorschot, Michael Opiekla and Birgit Pfau-Effinger

Culture and Welfare State provides comparative studies on the interplay between cultural factors and welfare policies. Starting with an analysis of the historical and cultural foundations of Western European welfare states, reflected in the competing ideologies of liberalism, conservatism and socialism, the book goes on to compare the Western European welfare model to those in North America, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Comprehensive and engaging, this volume examines not only the relationships between cultural change and welfare restructuring, taking empirical evidence from policy reforms in contemporary Europe, but also the popular legitimacy of welfare, focusing particularly on the underlying values, beliefs and attitudes of people in European countries.
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Chapter 13: Popular Deservingness Perceptions and Conditionality of Solidarity in Europe

Wim van Oorschot


Wim van Oorschot INTRODUCTION In all welfare states social protection is unequally divided, that is, it is more easily accessible, more generous, longer lasting, and/or less subjected to reciprocal obligations for some groups than for other groups. For instance, elderly people and disabled people can usually rely more strongly on less stigmatizing benefits than unemployed people; widows are usually better protected by national benefit schemes than divorced women; core workers can mostly rely on more generous and comprehensive social insurance schemes than peripheral workers, etc. Such differential treatment may reflect various considerations of policy-makers. These may be economic (less protection for less productive groups (Holliday, 2000)), political (better protection for groups with stronger lobbies (Baldwin, 1990)), or cultural (better protection for ‘our kind of’ people, or for ‘well-behaving’ people (Deacon, 2002)). Obviously, policy-makers who ration welfare rights and obligations act in an economic, political, and cultural context. By now, a large academic literature exists on the economic and political factors affecting welfare policy-making (Barr, 1992; Pierson, 2001), but the analysis of cultural influences has only recently been given more attention. Here we aim at contributing to an understanding of the popular cultural context of welfare rationing by examining European public perceptions of the relative deservingness of needy groups and variations in conditionality among Europeans. We examined public deservingness perceptions by analysing the degree to which the citizens of European welfare states show different solidaristic attitudes towards four different groups of needy people:...

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