English title: Attitudes to Social Justice

Author(s): Peter Taylor-Gooby -

Language: English

Type: Report, working paper

Year: 2005


The chapter shows that most people support the principles of social justice, but have reservations when it comes to paying more tax, particularly if it is intended primarily to help the poor. Views are complex, and support for greater fairness, a social minimum and more equal opportunities appears to be much stronger in relation to some groups than others. The extent of need is relevant – those with children are more likely to be supported – but, at the same time, groups which are seen to be contributing to society in some way, rather than just being passive recipients of welfare are also likely to be favoured. In other words, there are indications in the data that, while most people support the four principles outlined above, in practice they may add a fifth, a principle of reciprocity or entitlement through social contribution. The analysis is based mainly on the annual British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey; the leading survey of public attitudes in the UK. We reinforced this data with some findings from recent qualitative work carried out by Alan Hedges and Peter Dwyer, which uses focus groups to explore ideas about tax, the role of government in welfare and the circumstances under which different groups merit help. We also draw on the European Social Survey (ESS), which allows us to compare public opinion in the UK to that across Europe.

Edition: 0

Institution: Institute for Public Policy Research

Number of pages: 19

Number: 0

Series: Institute for Public Policy Research

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