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 14: Us versus Them: Examining the Perceived Deservingness of Minority Groups in the British Welfare State Using a Survey Experiment

Anouk Kootstra


Many scholars have claimed that immigration may impose a serious threat to the social legitimacy of European welfare states (Alesina and Glaeser, 2004; Bommes and Geddes, 2000; Freeman, 1986). Most explanations for the supposedly problematic relationship between immigration and welfare are based upon the idea that immigration yields ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic differences that weaken the homogeneity of society. This diversity, in turn, is thought to reduce feelings of commonality among citizens, and as a consequence, solidarity and public support for the welfare state is expected to diminish (Kymlicka and Banting, 2011). Most research studies the topic from a macro perspective, examining the relationship between countries’ immigration levels on the one hand and solidarity amongst its citizens on the other (Mau and Burkhardt, 2009). However, studies adopting a micro approach are scarce. In this chapter, I examine the link between diversity and welfare on the individual level and examine if, and why, the public is less generous towards welfare claimants from minority backgrounds compared with those from majority groups.

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