The Social Legitimacy of Targeted Welfare
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The Social Legitimacy of Targeted Welfare

Attitudes to Welfare Deservingness

Edited by Wim van Oorschot, Femke Roosma, Bart Meuleman and Tim Reeskens

This book addresses new perspectives on the perceived popular deservingness of target groups of social services and benefits, offering new insights and analysis to this quickly developing field of welfare attitudes research. It provides an up-to-date state of the art in terms of concepts, theories, research methods and data. The book offers a multi-disciplinary view on deservingness attitudes, with contributions from sociology, political science, media studies and social psychology. It links up with central welfare state debates about the allocation of collective resources between groups with particular needs, and wider categories of need.
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Chapter 4: False Beliefs and the Perceived Deservingness of Social Security Benefit Claimants

Ben Baumberg Geiger


In countries such as America and the UK, where social security benefit claimants are widely perceived as undeserving, there has been a debate about whether these negative attitudes are driven by ‘myths’. The accusation is that perceived undeservingness is due to false beliefs, spread through politically motivated media and politicians. ‘Myth busters’ have therefore been produced by campaigning organizations or feature in wider fact-checking initiatives1 and academics in both countries have made public contributions to this debate to try and eliminate these myths, not least Gilens (1996) in the US and Hills (2014) in the UK.

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