Welfare States and Public Opinion Perceptions of Healthcare Systems, Family Policy and Benefits for the Unemployed and Poor in Europe
Perceptions of Healthcare Systems, Family Policy and Benefits for the Unemployed and Poor in Europe
Chapter 2: Perceptions of Welfare State Institutions: Theories and Concepts
2. Perceptions of welfare state institutions: theories and concepts Institutional theory provides an important theoretical foundation for explaining people’s perceptions of welfare state institutions and why larger groups of people act in a very similar way in certain situations (DiMaggio and Powell 1991; Hall and Taylor 1996; Lepsius 1997; Kumlin and Rothstein 2005). We argue that public support for social policy is framed by the institutional design of these systems (for a similar argument, see Esping-Andersen 1990; Gevers et al. 2000; Gelissen 2002; Wendt et al. 2010). As Korpi (2003, p. 598) put it, ‘It can be argued that major welfare-state institutions are likely to be of relevance for the formation of values, attitudes, and interests among citizens.’ In this chapter, we provide an overview of institutional theory and conceptual frameworks in order to measure public attitudes against the background of institutional settings, and we discuss earlier research on attitudes toward social policy institutions. 2.1 INSTITUTIONAL THEORY Institutional theory is generally divided into three separable traditions: rational choice institutionalism, sociological institutionalism and historical institutionalism (Hall and Taylor 1996; Immergut 1998; Lieberman 2002; Béland 2005; Wendt 2009a). All three types of institutionalism focus on the relationship between institutions and human behavior (Hall and Taylor 1996; Immergut 1998) and share the goal of contributing to a better understanding of institutions and their impact on individuals in modern societies. In line with Max Weber, however, it would be more accurate to speak of processes of institutionalization rather than static institutions (Albert et...
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