Chapter 4 The Ambivalence of Material Vulnerability as a Foundation for Welfare Dependency Attitudes: Social Distrust or Dissatisfaction with the System?
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This chapter examines people’s perceptions of welfare dependency and how these affect their support for the welfare state. The chapter starts off from the observation that the most significant effect of the 2008 crisis has been the widespread implementation of austerity politics, which had the greatest impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population. The chapter examines how these developments have affected social cohesion beliefs (social distrust and institutional dissatisfaction), and critical beliefs about welfare intervention and welfare support across four European countries: two badly affected by the crisis, Ireland and Spain, and two relatively spared by it, Germany and Sweden. The chapter tests a theoretical model that suggests perceived material vulnerability leads to changes in the ways people conceive of the social bond. These social cohesion beliefs may shape critical beliefs about welfare dependency, which in turn may determine whether people ultimately support or oppose social government intervention.

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