Välkommen till ett seminarium med Sigrún Ólafsdóttir, Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics, University of Iceland.
Social Boundaries, Income Inequality and Government Responsibility: Examining whether detailed distinctions translate into attitudes toward inequality and the welfare state in Iceland
Abstract Sociologists have long been interested in how social class and social status impacts various outcomes, including people´s attitudes toward the welfare state and inequality. There are multiple ways to capture such distinctions, ranging from Marx´s focus on the ruling and working classes, to Weber´s emphasis on social status to Bourdieu´s concepts of cultural capital. While the traditional measure of education and income are critical in understanding how social class shapes attitudes, the allocation of people into classes is much more complex and individuals draw boundaries that distinguish them from others. These boundaries are of course related to objective measures of class position, but also capture lifestyle, social support and power. Research on the welfare state and inequality has generally shown that those who benefit more from welfare policies are more supportive of the welfare state and attempts to reduce inequality. Research has also shown that attitudes toward the welfare state and inequality depend on the macro-level contexts, and those who reside in the Nordic welfare state are often found to be most supportive of extensive welfare policies and least tolerant of inequality. Using the 2020 Icelandic Social Survey (ISS), we ask how different forms of capital impact attitudes toward income inequality and the responsibility of the government to reduce such inequality. We map out the social, economic, symbolic and cultural capital of the Icelandic population to supplement the more traditional class division based among other things on education and income, to identify social classes that build on objective indicators of social posistion and subjective perceptions of various forms of capital. We then explore how these classes impact attitudes toward inequality and the welfare state, sheding light on how the economic, social, symbolic and cultural divisions that exists in society impact views on income inequalty and government responsibility.