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 18: Evaluating the Fruitfulness of Deservingness Theory

Bart Meuleman, Femke Roosma and Wim van Oorschot


The central claim in this volume is that the social legitimacy of targeted welfare provision hinges to a large degree on public perceptions of the deservingness of the target groups. The various chapters contribute to our understanding of this legitimacy by addressing the nature of such deservingness judgements, as well as their roots and consequences. By means of diverse methodological tools, scholars from different research communities empirically test the central tenets of the deservingness framework, and explore whether deservingness is a useful theoretical lens through which to investigate new phenomena. In a nutshell, deservingness theory postulates that individuals’ opinions about welfare deservingness tend to differentiate between the target groups for social welfare policies (van Oorschot, 2006).

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