Elites, the Poor and the Welfare State in Unequal Democracies

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:00-10:30
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
RC18 Political Sociology (host committee)
RC07 Futures Research

Language: English

Social science typically expects democracy and distribution to correlate and yet we now live in an era of democracy with increasing inequality. We remain unaware of the reasons why elites moved toward highly distributive welfare states in early democracies but not in more recent democracies, such as the ones in Latin America, Africa and South Asia. Furthermore, we now observe how elites in established welfare states begin to cope with inequality once again in North America and Western Europe. As several authors have argued, distribution is in many ways affected by the reactions of elites to the poor. 
As argued by Swaan (1988), it was the acknowledgment of the interdependence between rich and poor that triggered the creation of welfare policies in Europe and in the US. And yet this pattern has not been replicated in the developing world. What are the preferences and perceived incentives behind such contrasting attitudes? What do they suggest as future trends for distribution patterns? 
This session will look at the relationship between elites and the poor, and its consequences for future welfare policies. We will discuss the results of recent surveys with political and economic elites in Latin America and South Africa, and welcome sociologists and political scientists engaged in empirical research or conceptual work on elites and distribution, elites and social policy, elite reactions to the poor, comparisons between elite and mass opinions and perceptions, ethnic and symbolic dimensions of elite-mass conflicts, historical developments of the welfare state, and other related subjects.
Session Organizer:
Felix LOPEZ, Institute of Applied Economic Research, Brazil
Elites, Poverty and Inequality in Brazil and South Africa
Graziella MORAES SILVA, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Business Elites and Citizen Demands – a Case Study from Chile
Karin FISCHER, Kepler University Linz, Austria; Pelfini PELFINI, Department of Sociology, Alberto Hurtado University, Santiago de Chile, Chile
The Welfare State, Taxation and Tax Privileges
Silke OETSCH, Department of Sociology, Austria
Welfare Restructuring and Philanthropic Elites. the Case of Milano
Lavinia BIFULCO, Department of Sociology, University of Milano Bicocca, Italy; Paola ARRIGONI, University of Torino, Italy
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See more of: RC07 Futures Research
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