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Class, values, and attitudes towards redistribution: A European comparison (2013)

Svallfors, Stefan , Joakim Kulin | 2013

European Sociological Review, Vol 29 (2013) pp 155–167.

DOI:10.1093/esr/jcr046, available online at www.esr.oxfordjournals.org

Abstract

Using data from the European Social Survey, we analyse the link between basic human values and attitudes towards redistribution, and how that link differs among classes and across countries. We assess whether and why the class-specific impact of self-transcendence and self-enhancement values on attitudes towards redistribution differs across a selection of European countries. The results show that the links between values and attitudes are generally stronger in more materially secure and privileged classes. However, the relative strength of the associations varies substantially across countries. Where inequality is smaller and poverty less prevalent, the link between values and attitudes becomes less class-specific. These findings provide support for our two main interpretations: (a) that welfare policies mitigate the class-specific risks that people are exposed to, which make values more salient and effective among workers; and (b) that the existence of visible and salient redistributive policies works to make clearer the cognitive link between abstract values and support for concrete policies.

European Sociological Review, Vol 29 (2013) pp 155–167.

DOI:10.1093/esr/jcr046, available online at www.esr.oxfordjournals.org

Abstract

Using data from the European Social Survey, we analyse the link between basic human values and attitudes towards redistribution, and how that link differs among classes and across countries. We assess whether and why the class-specific impact of self-transcendence and self-enhancement values on attitudes towards redistribution differs across a selection of European countries. The results show that the links between values and attitudes are generally stronger in more materially secure and privileged classes. However, the relative strength of the associations varies substantially across countries. Where inequality is smaller and poverty less prevalent, the link between values and attitudes becomes less class-specific. These findings provide support for our two main interpretations: (a) that welfare policies mitigate the class-specific risks that people are exposed to, which make values more salient and effective among workers; and (b) that the existence of visible and salient redistributive policies works to make clearer the cognitive link between abstract values and support for concrete policies.