English title: Welfare Support in Europe: Interplay of Dependency Culture Beliefs and Meritocratic Contexts

Author(s): Tiina Likki - Christian Staerklé -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2015


Beliefs about lazy and undeserving welfare recipients are widespread in liberal societies that consider that hard work and self-reliance—rather than need or entitlement—should determine individuals’ outcomes (McNamee & Miller, 2004). In this view, the welfare system is presented as leading to a culture of dependency that erodes both self-reliance and community values by encouraging people to stay on benefits rather than seek work. Conservative politicians and media often portray welfare recipients as free riders prone to misuse benefits. The efficacy of such anti-welfare discourse on public opinion is evidenced by social psychological research showing that negative stereotypes of welfare recipients lead to decreased support for public welfare (Gilens, 1999; Henry, Reyna, & Weiner, 2004; Mullen & Skitka, 2009). However, little research has studied the moderating conditions that might strengthen or weaken the influence of negative welfare beliefs on citizens’ support for actual welfare policies (see Petersen, Slothuus, Stubager, & Togeby, 2011, for an exception). Relying on social representations theory (Elcheroth, Doise, & Reicher, 2011; Moscovici, 1961/2008; Staerklé, Clémence, & Spini, 2011), we examine in this article the role of two factors moderating the relationship between dependency culture beliefs and welfare support, namely the degree of deservingness of welfare target groups (old and sick vs. unemployed), and …

Volume: 27

Issue: 1

From page no: 138

To page no: 153

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1093/IJPOR/EDU014

Journal: International journal of public opinion research