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Subjective Inequality: a Review of International Comparative Studies on People’s Views about Inequality

  • Jan Germen Janmaat (a1)

Abstract

This study reviews international comparative studies investigating people’s views on inequality. These studies are classified using a framework consisting of three types of conceptions of inequality and two dimensions of inequality. Four perspectives are discussed explaining cross-national differences in views on inequality: the modernist, the culturalist, the micro and the macro perspective. The findings of studies comparing views on inequalities in post-communist and Western states provide more support for the modernist than for the culturalist perspective. Few comparative studies appear to investigate views on inequalities as independent variables impacting on other social attitudes and behaviours. It is argued that the social relevance of the field will be enhanced if more studies can show that views on inequality have an effect on social outcomes complementary to that of objective inequalities.

L’étude fait le tour des comparaisons internationales qui ont analysé les opinions sur l’inégalité. On peut les classer à partir de trois conceptions de l’inégalité et de deux dimensions. On obtient en fait quatre modèles qui rendent compte des différences entre nations : le moderniste, le culturaliste, la perspective micro et la perspective macro. Les données comparatives pour les pays ex-communistes et les pays occidentaux s’accordent mieux avec une perspective moderniste que culturaliste. Les études comparatives ont fort peu traité les jugements sur l’inégalité comme variables indépendantes ayant un impact sur d’autres attitudes et comportements sociaux. La pertinence sociale de ce champ d’études serait augmentée si davantage d’études montraient que les jugements sur l’inégalité ont des effets sociaux qui s’ajoutent à ceux des inégalités objectives.

Dieser Beitrag interessiert sich für internationale vergleichende Studien, die die Anschauungen über Ungleichheit zum Thema haben. Diese Studien lassen sich in drei Konzepte und zwei Dimensionen von Ungleichheit einteilen. Daraus entstehen vier Modelle, die die unterschiedlichen nationalen Betrachtungsweisen von Ungleichheit erklären: die modernistische Perspektive, die kulturelle Perspektive, die Mikroperspektive und die Makroperspektive. Die vergleichenden Angaben ehemaliger kommunistischer und westlicher Länder stimmen eher mit der modernistischen als mit der kulturalistischen Perspektive überein. Nur wenige der vergleichenden Studien scheinen Ungleichheiten als unabhängige Variablen zu verstehen, die zu anderen sozialen Formen und Verhaltensweisen führen könnten. Die soziale Bedeutung dieses Studienbereichs könnte zunehmen, falls mehrere Untersuchungen zeigen würden, dass die Einstufungen der Ungleichheit soziale Auswirkungen haben, die zu den objektiven Ungleichheiten hinzugefügt werden müssen.

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Subjective Inequality: a Review of International Comparative Studies on People’s Views about Inequality

  • Jan Germen Janmaat (a1)

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