The structure of welfare preferences and the solidarity norms
In this study we intend to shed some light on the connections between social structure, solidarity norms and preferences for welfare institutions. According to our main proposition, the intensity of primordial relationships affects the preferences for certain welfare institutions in a somewhat controversial way: As a result of the increased importance of equality, members of more cohesive kinship networks tend to give more support for various kinds of welfare benefits. On the other hand, more intensive primordial relationships might foster the ignorance of those social problems that do not affect directly the individual's social environment (social exclusion). The controversial nature of the influence of small-group cohesion on welfare preferences makes it hard to test the existence of the supposed mechanisms empirically. In spite of the difficulties, however, it is possible to elaborate some empirical hypotheses about the connection between the micro-social structure and welfare preferences. If we look at two institutions in one area of the welfare state (e.g. health or education etc.) that are similar in the nature of the service or transfer they provide, but their beneficiaries differ significantly, then only the aspect of exclusion might play a role in shaping the difference between one's preferences for those two institutions. We carried out empirical surveys for testing our hypotheses. The empirical evidence provided by those sample surveys does not falsify the theory. However, the way of measurement of structural characteristics was far from perfect. That is, we could not directly transform theoretical variables to empirical ones, thus, the connections between them are based on further, non-tested bridge assumptions.
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