Attitudes to Welfare Deservingness
Edited by Wim van Oorschot, Femke Roosma, Bart Meuleman and Tim Reeskens
Chapter 5: Negative Attitudes towards Welfare Claimants: The Importance of Unconscious Bias
As discussed elsewhere in this volume, research in a wide variety of countries shows that unemployed people are generally considered less deserving of welfare support than other social groups, such as older people or people with disabilities (for example van Oorschot, 2006; Hills, 2002; Larsen, 2002; Coughlin, 1980). However, not everyone feels the same way about the unemployed. Opinions about how much help this group deserves vary widely: between countries, between individuals and over time. There are many potential reasons for these differences of opinion. For example, different welfare systems might encourage people to view welfare recipients differently (Larsen, 2006). However, in this chapter I focus on the role of implicit attitudes: the unconscious feelings and beliefs people hold about specific social groups.
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