Conference Agenda

RN26_07: Attitudes to and perceptions of welfare
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Felix Wilke, German Statutory Pension
Location: GM.307
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Does Support for Redistribution Vary Over the Life-Cycle? A Pseudo-Pannel Approach

Amilcar Moreira1, Mikkel Barslund2, Luis Manso1

1Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal; 2Centre for European Policy Studies, Belgium

Going all the way back to the work of Meltzer and Richard (1981), a vast literature has developed on the factors that shape support for redistribution as a means to promote a more equalitarian distribution of economic resources - be it income or wealth (see, Neher, 2011). Most of the literature on this topic suggests that individuals’ attitudes reflect individuals’ perceptions of the need for social protection, and to how this is shaped by the different contexts in which they find themselves over their lifecycle, and the institutions that regulate collective life (see Galasso and Profeta, 2004; Goerres 2007). This contrasts with the findings of Tilley (2002) or Fullerton and Dixon (2010), who argue that individuals’ political preferences are fundamentally shaped in the historical period in which they have formed their political views, and remains stable there forward. Taking advantage of a cross-national pseudo-panel, built using data from the European Values Study, this paper looks at whether, once we control for cross-national and institutional differences, support for redistribution varies over individuals’ life-cycle or remains (relatively) stable over the life-course.

Welfare as a Right, Gift, or Transaction

Melissa Sebrechts, Thomas Kampen

University of Humanistic Studies, Netherlands, The

Since 2004 Dutch welfare policies have been decentralized to the local level, thereby giving municipalities more room to design and implement their own policies with regard to unemployment. So far research has paid little attention to people’s experiences of welfare in this decentralized policy landscape, especially with regard to how they judge the fairness of the emerging differences between municipalities. Based on empirical findings, we show how welfare clients’ perceptions of fairness depend on whether they interpret their welfare benefits to be a right, a gift, or a transaction. How they frame welfare profoundly matters for how they think and feel about the fairness of their rights and duties. In a gift- and barter-discourse people speak in terms of gratefulness, bad luck or good luck, and express emotions of shame and humiliation. As opposed to a rights-discourse on welfare, in which people tend to describe their situation or differences between municipalities as unjust and express corresponding emotions (anger, indignation). This paper explores how these frames and emotions are related to the municipal welfare regime people are subjected to. By bringing into view experiences of welfare clients under decentralized welfare regimes, we aim to contribute to the debate on devolution from a social justice perspective.

A Neoliberal Framework For The Italian Welfare Changes

Cecilia Ficcadenti

University of Rome - Sapienza, Italy

The last global economic and financial crisis definitely challenged the European social model, pushing for economically efficient and socially effective strategies. Since then, Italy faced a huge State retrenchment in funding social policies. Moreover, Italy is a country where welfare services are mostly supplied at the local level and cities and regions are limited by the internal budget balance. In this scenario, private and economic actors, slowly but steadily, begun to engage in welfare supply and financing, even that scholars devised a new label for this turn: second welfare. The literature argues that market and private actors’ commitment are social innovations able to counteract welfare dismantling, led by the crisis’ pressure. Conversely, the research hypothesis is that the case of the “second welfare” is an empirical derivation of the longstanding neoliberal paradigm in Italy. The theoretical argument is supported by the analysis of the actors involved, the operational mechanisms, and the ideas that the post-crisis welfare turn carries on. The research findings show that economic actors advancement in welfare arena is a driver for welfare services privatization and commodification, under the egis of welfare sustainability. To strengthen the research result, data analysis has been contrasted to the main stream theoretical concept that frame contemporary welfare changes: social innovation and social investment. The analysis is a first step for a wider empirical research. Indeed, other questions have –yet –to be answered, which can be sum up in: is the Italian welfare state changing into a space for capitalist accumulation?

The Sectoral Boundaries and Power in the Governance of Welfare – A Sociological Analysis of the State Funding to the Third Sector Organizations in Finland

Veera Emilia Kankainen

University of Helsinki, Finland

This study unfolds how the state grants to Finnish third sector organizations (TSOs) reproduce the sectoral boundaries and power relations in the governance of welfare. Traditionally, the mainstream non-profit theories describe the state and civil society power relations as zero-sum game and assume the public funding to TSOs to corrupt their voluntary nature. Recently, scholars have addressed that the third sector rarely functions without any public funding. The relationships between the public and third sector are understood interconnected and complex. To tackle this complexity, the study takes the theories of Niklas Luhmann and Michel Foucault as the methodological starting point for the discourse analysis of the 26 interviews conducted in welfare promoting third sector organizations (20) and administrative bodies (6) governing the grants. Luhmann’s concepts of autopoiesis and structural coupling enable to simultaneously analyse how TSOs become both differentiated from and coupled with the administrative organizations. Completing the analysis with the Foucauldian notions of power, the study resolves the public steering embedded in the couplings. The results indicate that TSOs are not subsumed into the public sector. On the contrary, the grant discourses reproduce the difference third sector/state by relying the idea that TSOs can grasp the ‘needs’ of citizens or marginalized groups better than the public sector. Meanwhile, grant receiving TSOs must still practice self-governance and translate their activities into the administrative language. The study ends with a critical discussion about the possibilities of third sector to act as the solution to the wicked problems in the welfare provision.