Introduction: The Welfare State, Mass Opinion, and Embedded Preferences

in Why Welfare States Persist

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226075839
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226075952 | DOI:
Introduction: The Welfare State, Mass Opinion, and Embedded Preferences

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This chapter articulates and applies a sociologically informed approach more centrally to the study of welfare state attitudes. It does so by first identifying key points of constructive difference between the two general approaches. It analyzes survey data for four countries (United States, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands) to evaluate expectations about the structure and sources of policy preferences concerning the welfare state. Economic approaches start from the assumption that mass policy preferences are an outcome of individuals' calculations of expected benefits, where “streams of utility” are influenced by changes in both the economy and the policy activities of government. The chapter also discusses the embedded preferences approach. The core of the economic model of policy preferences rests on a view of individuals as disposed to modify their policy preferences in light of ongoing patterns of change in the economy and/or government policy. The alternative view emphasizes the embeddedness of individuals and their attitudes in social relations and contexts.

Keywords: welfare state; policy preferences; economic approaches; mass policy; embedded preferences; economy; government policy

Chapter.  3974 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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