Acknowledged as the defining challenge of our time, economic inequality has far reaching individual and societal consequences. It negatively affects productivity, decision-making, and health outcomes on the one hand, and political stability and economic growth on the other. Increased competition for resources not allocated at the top skews available reference frames and leads to adoption of unachievable standards, generating stressful social comparisons and anxiety that may intensify inter-group conflicts. Yet, as this dissertation shows on data from surveys from across the world, many of the worse off tend to believe that the social world in general is fair and that large differences in incomes are justified and even necessary. To understand why and how are the widespread and entrenched differences in incomes and wealth not being contested at a larger scale, this dissertations links perceptions and judgments of economic inequalities to their perceived, and often misjudged, normativity. It is argued that there is a need for a greater attention and understanding of people’s beliefs about what are the popular opinions and shared values regarding political issues. It is not only that people not know of inequalities, underestimate them, or attempt to rationalize their existence as fair and deserved. It is that people also need to know that their sentiments are shared by others. Based on results of multiple experimental studies, this thesis explored and supported a possibility that people who believe that the unequal status quo is unsatisfactory and that the standing system should be challenged and changed also tend to believe that their views are not shared by the general population. Even more, such thinking tends to get reinforced when someone else is critical of the system in place. Thus, instead of rising in spirit and assuming that others will finally see at least some of the negative outcomes of the way things are, those hoping for change may get demoralized, feel isolated in their views, and may feel drawn to compromises they shouldn't need to consider. In particular, the dissertation mainly utilizes the framework of conservatism being a motivated political cognition (Jost et al., 2003) which proposes that adoption of system-legitimizing attitudes may be motivated by psychological needs to see the social world as orderly, structured, and generally just and fair. In four chapters, the dissertations explores how the conditions theorized to motivate adoption of status-legitimizing attitudes affect not only these attitudes, but also the perceptions of their normativeness. Chapter 2 presents a comprehensive test of the original reading of status-legitimacy hypothesis (Jost, Pelham, Sheldon, & Ni Sullivan, 2003) which implied that those with lower objective status are the most motivated to system-justify, and of the re-specified version (van der Toorn et al., 2015) that posits subjective powerlessness to be the driver of undue system legitimization. Presented are results of a mixed-effects analysis of ISSP data on social inequality, covering almost 50,000 respondents from 28 countries. The results from analysis testing contextual moderation lend more support for the original, rather than the revised reading of status-legitimacy hypothesis - that it is the objectively disadvantaged who may experience greater motivation to defend the system. Chapter 3 adopts Lane's (1986) perspective explaining that political institutions create more dissonance than market institutions, and tests a proposition that while political institutions will be perceived as legitimate by the members of the lower classes, market institutions will be seen as less legitimate. Second, we hypothesize that those over and under-estimating their social class should report higher or lower perceived legitimacy of the system. Analysis of data from General Social Survey (2010-2016; total n = 4142) shows that those in lower classes report higher confidence in political, but not market institutions compared to those members of the upper classes. Similarly, relative to those under- or correctly estimating their class, those over-estimating their class positioning reported higher confidence in political compared to market institutions. Chapter 4 presents two experimental studies testing, on a sample of 201 students (in Tilburg, the Netherlands), how indirect threat to the country's culture and a direct criticism of the country's economic performance influence people's perceptions of attitudinal similarity with their society in general depending on their prior ideological views. The results suggest that those with views critical of the standing socio-political system imagine their co-nationals as more attitudinally different compared to those who consider the standing system to be fair and desirable. In particular, exposure to economic threat, but not cultural threat, increased the perceived ideological distance from the presumed attitudes of the rest of the society among those critical of the system, but not among those who considered the system to be fair and desirable as it is. Chapter 5 presents data from two studies conducted before and after the 2016 US Presidential election (mTurk, n = 478), and before and after the 2017 UK general election (Prolific Academic, n = 617). Data were gathered in two rounds, utilizing the same between-subjects experimental design to assess whether ideological differences moderate how threat (economic system threat) and uncertainty (outcome uncertainty about election) influence the perceived similarity between people's personal normative attitudes (how things should be) and their estimates of socially normative attitudes (what they believe others would say should be). Furthermore, the effect of the result of the election on beliefs about the legitimacy of the standing economic system among supporters of competing political parties was assessed in two studies using within-subjects design (US n = 80; UK n = 329). The findings support the hypothesis that ideology predicts differences in perception of the generalized other when faced with system threat and that people bolster their ideological commitments following threats to their worldview in form of electoral defeat. While liberals tend to overestimate the strength of conservative values within the society in general, conservatives view others as both more conservative and liberal compared to themselves.
Unequal but Fair? About the Perceived Legitimacy of the Standing Economic Order / Buchel, Ondrej. - (2020 Sep 04), pp. 1-234.
|Titolo:||Unequal but Fair? About the Perceived Legitimacy of the Standing Economic Order|
|Anno di pubblicazione:||2020-09-04|
|Struttura:||Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale|
|Corso di dottorato:||Sociology and Social Research (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)|
|Relatore:||Luijkx, Adrianus Rudolphus|
|Tutor esterno:||Achterberg, Peter Proulx, Travis|
|Supervisore/Relatore di tesi dell'ateneo partner, nel caso di percorso in co-tutela di tesi:||Achterberg, Peter|
|Tesi in cotutela:||sì|
|Paese e nome dell'Istituzione/ente esterno in caso di cotutela o collaborazioni internazionali:||PAESI BASSI|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.15168/11572_254054|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||08.1 Tesi di dottorato (Doctoral Thesis)|