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Support for the Affluent Welfare State

Interests, Fairness, and Social Capital in Context

Schedule: 2012-2015
Funding source: Norges forskningsråd

The study's primary objective is to study the joint impact of the national and local contexts (public and private affluence, inequality, ethnic heterogeneity, and the public sphere) on attitudes and behaviour related to the welfare state.

This is achieved through the following secondary objectives:

  • analyze how context affects formation/definition of interests, perceptions of fairness/reciprocity, and social capital/trust.
  • study causal links between these aspects, and gauge their significance for support for welfare policies, taxation, and redistribution.
  • examine also contextual aspects of the public sphere (agenda-setting and framing), employing survey experiments to analyze how public sphere and exogenous context jointly interact in affecting individuals

We will analyze the attitudes and behavior on which the modern welfare state rests. Such support is studied broadly, including how people define their economic interests, how they perceive the fairness of procedures and outcomes, and whether they trust and interact with fellow citizens in civil society.

The overriding question is how orientations are affected by local and national context. We will analyze the effects of local variation in Norway, but also compare a large number of European countries with each other. Four groups of contextual factors are considered:

(1) public and private affluence
 (2) the level and structure of economic inequality
 (3) variations in ethnic heterogeneity, and
 (4) variations in the mass mediated public sphere.

We will jointly consider several groups of contextual factors, analyzing how they work in combination by uniting studies of national and local contexts under one framework. Finally, we will also systematically include the public sphere as a source of contextual variation, focusing on how agenda-setting and framing at the elite level affect citizens in combination with external conditions.

In order to do so we will conduct a citizen survey in  Norwegian municipalities with a panel design (waves in 2013-15) and a stratified sample. This survey measures all key concepts and can be matched with unique contextual data.

The design allows separation for of self-selection processes from genuine contextual causal impact. It also allows analysis of dynamic contextual changes.

Moreover, we will study election campaigns in eight countries asking how important issues of the welfare state have been framed in the public sphere by political actors. The impact of such variation is studied in randomized experiments in Norway, Sweden and Germany. This allows studies of how "agenda-setting" and "framing" interact with contextual conditions

Publications

Papers:  

Kumlin, Staffan. 2014. "Policy Feedback in Political Context: Unemployment Benefits, Election Campaigns,and Democratic Satisfaction", in Kumlin, STaffan and STabdelmann-Steffem, Isabelle. How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kumlin, Staffan. 2014. “Informed Performance Evaluation of the Welfare State? Experimental and Real-world Findings", in Kumlin, Staffan and Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle. How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kumlin, Staffan and Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle. 2014. “Citizens, Policy Feedback, and European Welfare States”, in Kumlin, Staffan and Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle. How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kumlin, Staffan and Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle. 2014. “How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Borrowing Strength Across Research Communities”, in Kumlin, Staffan and Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle. How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Wollebæk, Dag, Steen-Johnsen, Kari and Enjorlas, Bernand. 2013. “Rallying Without Fear. Political Consequences of Terror in a High Trust Society”, in Sinclar, Samuel J. and Antonius, Daniel. The Political Consequences of Terror. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Wallmann Lundåsen, Susanne and Wollebæk, Dag. 2013 “Diversity and Community Trust in Swedish Local Communities” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties. 23(3):299-321

Books:

Ødegård, Guro, Loga, Jill, Steen-Johnsen, Kari and Ravneberg, Bodil (eds). 2014. Fellesskap og Forskjellighet. Integrasjon og Nettverksbygging i Flerkulturelle Lokalsamfun. Oslo: Abstrakt Forlag 

Kumlin, Staffan and Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle (eds) 2014. How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 

Johansson, Bengt, Kumlin, Staffan, Naurin, Elin and Wängerud, Lena. 2014. Det Politiska Spelet: Medborgare, Medier och Politiker  i den Representative Demokratin. Lund: Studentlitteratur

Trägårdh, Lars, Wallman Lundåsen, Susanne, Wollebæk, Dag and Svedberg, Lars. 2013. Den Svala Svenska Tilliten. Förutsättningar och Utmaningar. Stockholm: SNS förlag